In the recently passed 2008 Federal budget, Bush did not get his requested increase for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Instead, Congress flat-lined ONC’s budget for 2008 holding it steady at $61.3M. Clearly, Congress is not all that impressed with the activities at ONC.
In an article in Government Health IT the head of ONC, Dr. Kolodner is quoted as saying that certain initiatives will be curtailed with the National Health Information Network (NHIN) taking the biggest hit. NHIN funding has been one of the primary sources of funds for Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs). With RHIOs struggling to become viable and most still highly dependent on such grants, it looks like one of my predictions for 2008 is closer to becoming reality, and we are only in the first week of the New Year!
Another casualty will be a planned effort to define a Personal Health Record (PHR) architecture. Thank goodness.
Really have a hard time understanding why the government wishes to get involved in such an activity and what meaningful contribution they could make. Organizations such as the Markle Foundation is promoting a Common Framework, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is sponsoring Project Health Design, CMS is working with HealthTrio and IBM on a PHR test case, and the list goes on and on.
Adding to that are what are arguably the most significant PHR architectural efforts today, those of Microsoft with HealthVault and Dossia. Both organizations are much more in-tune with the market and are aggressively moving ahead with a new architectural construct for the PHR market, that of a Personal Health System (PHS). These systems will, if successful, become ecosystems for personal health applications (PHR a subset thereof) and will ultimately establish an architectural framework that is as much market-driven as it is needs-driven, rather than a perverse, government mandate-driven architecture.
This is something that ONC should not even think about attempting. Thankfully, Congress was thinking the same thing.