NAHIT is no more

By Bernie Monegain
06:45 AM

Calling its role in the healthcare IT realm "mission accomplished," officials at the National Health Alliance for Health Information Technology will end a seven-year run

NAHIT leadership announced Monday they would cease operations on Sept. 30.

"In a few short years, NAHIT has accomplished its mission: HIT has moved front and center in efforts to reinvent and reinvigorate the U.S. health system," said Jane Horowitz, NAHIT's chief operating officer. "Going forward, the action is shifting from NAHIT's focus on educating, advocating and building common ground to planning, implementing and using HIT to improve care, safety and efficiency."

Horowitz said other organizations would carry the torch. But in naming the groups she didn't include the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a Chicago-based, 23,000-member organization of healthcare IT professionals with similar goals and with whom NAHIT had partnered on some projects. Nor did she mention the American Health Information Management Association, which claims more than 53,000 members and has also worked with NAHIT on such projects as the establishment of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT).

"Other organizations are better positioned to help providers with implementation," Horowitz said. "In particular, the American Hospital Association has close ties with hospital chief executive officers while the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives is the leading industry association for chief information officers. These organizations, both ongoing supporters of NAHIT, understand the tremendous value and need for HIT. They are devoting substantial resources for helping their members realize the potential of HIT and ensuring HIT is embedded in healthcare reform initiatives. We know that the AHA and CHIME will continue to advance the adoption of HIT."

NAHIT has been quiet since Scott Wallace, its founder, president and CEO, resigned in March 2008. The organization said then it was exploring new strategies.

Before Wallace resigned, NAHIT had undertaken a number of projects with HIMSS. It also experimented with a new name – dropping its full name and the NAHIT acronym to call itself "The Alliance."

 NAHIT officials listed the group's accomplishments:

  • Co-founding the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT.)
  • Creating the Healthcare Supply Chain Standards Coalition, an initiative to identify and coordinate the adoption of standards in the healthcare supply chain, which merged with GS1 Healthcare US.
  • Developing a consensus-driven definition of interoperability that has been adopted industry-wide and used in proposed legislative language
  • Sharing HIT best practices through its Web sites, idea exchanges, virtual idea exchanges, books and other venues and publishing "Best Practices for Management and Board Collaboration in Health IT Adoption" and "Rules of Engagement: Proven Paths for Instilling, then Installing CPOE."
  • Creating and maintaining the first public directory of health IT standards, then donating the content to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  • Leading a successful effort to gain industry consensus on the use of bar codes for identifying medication, which helped shaped regulations from the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Spearheading for the Office of National Coordinator the development of consensus-based definitions for key healthcare information technology terms, with the goal of furthering healthcare information technology adoption and the exchange of health information.
  • Advocating for a voluntary and flexible system of unique patient identifiers.