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Obamicans rebranding NHIN-Connect as the Health Internet

Having health records moved nationwide under a set of open, accessible standards is also great news for Personal Health Record (PHR) systems like Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health, which may soon have a single set of open standards every proprietary system is writing to.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

The Obama Administration has a new brand for the NHIN-CONNECT service that debuted earlier this year.

The Health Internet.

(The button to the right is currently on the CONNECT home page.)

CONNECT is a set of open standards and protocols, originally developed under contract by Harris Corp., primarily using technology from Sun Microsystems (soon to be part of Oracle).

Among the open source tools in NHIN-CONNECT are the GlassFish application platform, the Java Composite Application Platform Suite (CAPS) SOA Platform, and the Sun Java Identity Management suite.

Since its April launch the Department of Health and Human Services has been hosting a series of "code-a-thons" where programmers can dissect and improve the software. About 100 participated in the first such event in August.

The frame of a health Internet is drawing effusive praise from Robert Kolodner, who was the last National Coordinator for Health IT under the Bush Administration, and who recently went to Open Health Tools.

All this is part of an important policy turn by the Obama Administration which, as Kolodner's support for it indicates, really has nothing to do with politics.

Under the Bush Administration, policy favored contractors, who kept their work proprietary. The hope was that privatizing development would save government money in the long run. The Veterans Administration even lost control of its own lab software, after decades seeking to develop it internally under its VistA system.

Now the VA's CIO thinks VistA is the bees knees, and the open source movement has even invaded the Defense Department, which appears to welcome its new penguin overlords.

Having health records moved nationwide under a set of open, accessible standards is also great news for Personal Health Record (PHR) systems like Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health, which may soon have a single set of open standards every proprietary system is writing to.

The pitch that NHIN-CONNECT is a "health Internet" reflects all these changes. Ordinary citizens won't access the system, but they will be able to gain its byproducts, including PHRs delivered through tech companies, insurers or hospitals.

It's real health reform, and it cost nothing that wasn't already being spent under the previous Administration.

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