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Federal government launches health information network pilot

CHICAGO - Several agencies in the federal government plan this year to launch pilots of the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).

Agencies will use Harris Corp.'s Connect, according to the company, a product developed to allow agencies and healthcare providers to exchange patient information electronically on a fast, secure network. Harris announced the news this week at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference in Chicago.

The Social Security Administration was the first agency to use the network when it began in February limited use of the system to cut the time required to obtain medical records to process disability claims. This year, between six and 14 agencies are expected to start using the network.

"The Social Security Administration is a federal leader leveraging healthcare information technology to accomplish their nationally important mission," according to Jim Traficant, vice president of Harris Healthcare Solutions. "Connect delivers secure and seamless health information exchange between federal agencies and with providers in the private sector while assuring patient privacy. Connect has the capacity to transform care and benefits delivery for people in need, including our wounded warriors, veterans and their families."

Connect includes 10 core NHIN gateway services and a software development kit. The Department of Health and Human Services released software for general availability in February. Harris, which teamed with partners Agilex Technologies Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Scenpro Inc., was awarded the original development and integration contract for Connect in March of 2008 by the Federal Health Architecture.

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