US to launch trials for nationwide e-health network

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said Friday that it will support trial projects that could be the first steps toward a nationwide health information network.

In several months, HHS will provide details of how the trials of a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) will be implemented, according to an announcement on the HHS Web site. Proposals to create the trial projects and how to integrate them will be solicited in the spring, according to HHS.

"The trial implementations are a critical next step to move America closer to realizing an interoperable NHIN," said Robert Kolodner, interim national coordinator for health IT in a statement. "By bringing together the significant expertise and work achieved this year, by the current efforts with state and local health information exchanges, we can begin to construct the 'network of networks' that will form the basis of the NHIN."

Four consortiums under contract to develop prototype architectures for a nationwide network will unveil their prototypes in January. These prototypes include developing functional requirements, security approaches and identifying standards for exchanging health information securely in different geographic locations, the HHS said.