rations; (2) a set of common national communication tools, such as web services architecture, security technologies, and a national health information network, that can provide low-cost and secure data movement; and (3) coordination of existing federal health information systems consistent with the NHII.

Several initiatives are now under way to develop regional collaborations for the creation of this interoperable infrastructure. First, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has a cooperative agreement with the Foundation for eHealth Initiative to administer the Connecting Communities for Better Health program. The $2.3 million program provides seed funding and support to multistakeholder collaboratives within communities (both geographic and nongeographic) for the implementation of health information exchanges, including the formation of regional health information organizations (Thompson and Brailer, 2004). Second, in October 2004, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) awarded $139 million in grants and contracts to promote the use of health information technology through the development of networks for sharing clinical data, as well as to support projects for planning, implementing, and demonstrating the value of IT (AHRQ, 2004). Finally, Connecting for Health, a public–private collaborative of more than 100 diverse organizations, has launched a prototype electronic national health information exchange based on common, open standards that will allow authorized users of three very different health information networks located in California, Massachusetts, and Indiana to share health information both within and among their local regions and communities. Teams in Mendocino, Boston, and Indianapolis will work with one another and with Connecting for Health to launch prototype networks that will connect the diverse technologies within each region’s health network and accommodate the differing social and economic profiles of the various communities (Markle Foundation, 2005).

In general, however, the committee finds that information needs pertaining to health care for M/SU conditions have not been well addressed in these initiatives.


There is evidence that health care for M/SU conditions could be better addressed in the many efforts under way to develop the NHII. For example, in the “comprehensive catalogue of identifiable federal health information technology programs” included in the framework for strategic action submitted to the President by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the listing of IT initiatives by DHHS agencies identifies

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