Group's resource seeks to help network efforts

By Healthcare IT News
12:00 AM

In various difficult and long treks to start healthcare information networks, many hard lessons have been learned.

The Foundation for eHealth Initiatives is developing a forum for sharing that knowledge, announcing the creation of "Connecting Communities for Better Health."

The Washington-based organization expects to build its Web-based resource center and augment it with other services and opportunities for sharing experiences, said Janet Marchibroda, executive director.

"We see it as a key strategic area," she said. "We're (planning) to expand the scope of it and build communities across all stakeholders. You'll see more information there, we'll create a place for building community, learning and dialogue."

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Connecting Communities is accessible from the home page of eHealth Initiatives. As a resource center, it had its start in the fall, when the Foundation for eHealth Initiatives received initial applications for grants from 134 organizations seeking seed funding for data exchange projects.

"The resource center was inspired by those initial responses," said Lori Evans, vice president of the foundation and program director for the Connecting Communities project. "Building a network is so multi-faceted. There are so many areas that need to be considered and accomplished."

The Web site is organized by content areas considered to be crucial in networking efforts. These include financing, business models, governance, technology, clinician adoption and workflow challenges. It also includes a directory of the 134 initiatives, categorized by state, with profile information on each one.

The base of knowledge will help other regions get efforts off the ground, said John Glaser, vice president and CIO of Partners HealthCare System and president of the board of the foundation.

"There are common issues these initiatives face across-the-board," he said. "This gives a place to collect what we know and what we've learned."Because the issues are complex, each network will face different challenges and will have to develop specialized answers, said J. Marc Overhage, M.D., investigator for the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, Indianapolis, and chairman of the committee evaluating the Connecting Communities resources.

"The Web site provides resources to let each community develop its own path," he said.

Later this spring, a second phase of the Web site will be released, featuring interactive capabilities, such as threaded discussions with networking experts, Evans said. Future enhancements also will include a policy and research area of the Web site.

"We want to leverage what's been done so networks can be created faster," she said.

Key partners working with the Foundation for eHealth Initiative on the Program include the Center for Information Technology Leadership (CITL) chartered by Partners HealthCare System and the Regenstrief Institute.

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