The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) this week announced that subcontracts have been offered to 34 states and territories by RTI International to participate in an effort to address privacy issues associated with the proposed creation of a National Health Information Network. The NGA Center is a partner with RTI International on the overall project that examines business policies and state laws related to the privacy and security of health information.

The states and territories will form the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration (HISPC), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' strategy whose aim is to allow electronic health records to be shared among health care professionals nationwide.

"The current fragmented health care system is broken and unsustainable, and governors recognize that health information technology offers the promise for improving the system," said NGA Chairman Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. "The eventual use of health information technology will go a long way in making the system more efficient and effective for all."

States with executed subcontracts to date are: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Awards for the 34 subcontracts range from $250,000 to $350,000 and will require each state to bring together a broad range of stakeholders from their respective regions to develop consensus-based solutions to the barriers to health information exchange.

"The information learned from the state-led projects will be critical to developing an interoperable national health information network," said NGA Center Chair and Association Vice Chair Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. "A nationwide network will allow consumers to make informed choices by providing them secure access to their health care information."

States selected to participate will be asked to complete by fall 2006 assessments of privacy and security policies, regulations, and business practices that might affect their ability to connect to the national health information network, according to RTI. In March 2007, representatives from each region will discuss implementation plans that allow electronic sharing of health information across states and territories.