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Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN): Background

The Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) is the critical portion of the health IT agenda intended to provide a secure, nationwide, interoperable health information infrastructure that will connect providers, consumers, and others involved in supporting health and healthcare. The NHIN will enable health information to follow the consumer, be available for clinical decision making, and support appropriate use of healthcare information beyond direct patient care so as to improve health.

The NHIN seeks to achieve these goals by:

  • Developing capabilities for standards-based, secure data exchange nationally
  • Improving the coordination of care information among hospitals, laboratories, physicians offices, pharmacies, and other providers
  • Ensuring appropriate information is available at the time and place of care
  • Ensuring that consumers’ health information is secure and confidential
  • Giving consumers new capabilities for managing and controlling their personal health records as well as providing access to their health information from EHRs and other sources
  • Reducing risks from medical errors and supporting the delivery of appropriate, evidence-based medical care
  • Lowering healthcare costs resulting from inefficiencies, medical errors, and incomplete patient information
  • Promoting a more effective marketplace, greater competition, and increased choice through accessibility to accurate information on healthcare costs, quality, and outcomes

The Office of the National Coordinator is advancing the NHIN as a ‘network of networks,” built out of state and regional health information exchanges (HIEs) and other networks so as to support the exchange of health information by connecting these networks and the systems they, in turn, connect.

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"We have hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many of the soldiers would arrive without records in Germany, with no record of the CAT scans or what happened in surgery in Afghanistan or Iraq. The clinicians in Germany would have to re-operate on the patient, would have to redo all their x-ray evaluations, CAT scans, etc...." ~ Colonel John Holcomb

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