A regional coalition of health care organizations has announced creation of a collective action plan entitled “A Common Vision for Health Care: Get Connected.”

Common Vision advocates internet technologies for exchange of health care information while at the same time protecting patient privacy.

“We envision the use of secure internet technologies that protect patient confidentiality but create a system where everyone within the healthcare continuum has appropriate access to the information they need, when and where they need it,” says Ingvar Petursson, CIO of The Regence Group and one of the authors of Common Vision. “We see Common Vision as a distinctive roadmap for facilitating this evolution in a timely and focused manner.”

Common Vision calls upon “healthcare executives, public policy leaders, technology providers and consumer interests in the Pacific Northwest to support and execute a standardized process for the electronic transmission of healthcare information via secure internet technologies and across organizational boundaries to improve health care system performance, confidentiality and efficiency.”

This would enable patient information to go where it is needed to serve the needs of that patient.

To accomplish its goals, the coalition has endorsed the following tactics:

Guarantee a pledge of privacy through the development and application of tools and standards necessary to make information secure and confidential.

Work aggressively to get organizations connected through the adoption of secure internet technologies.

Adapt systems in compliance with federal regulations emanating from HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Leverage relationships with technology vendors and insist upon internet-based products.

Create a measurable indicator by which to evaluate a tool or technology’s compliance with shared standards.

Support CHITA (Community Health Information Technology Alliance) as the community-wide focus for building consensus on issues related to electronic information transmission and commerce.

“The technology is at hand,” says Tom Byron, CIO of the Washington State Hospital Association. “The growth and adoption of internet technologies has created a common medium. Now, it’s incumbent upon both the health care and technology communities to adopt this medium in a safe, consensual, timely and organized manner.”

“We know that the next step is to ensure absolute patient confidentiality and privacy for data transmitted using internet technologies,”adds Peter B. Summerville, director of CHITA. “This can only succeed when everyone is confident information is protected,”

The full text of “A Common Vision for Health Care: Get Connected” is available by visiting the CHITA website at http://www.chita.org or calling CHITA at 206-224-3950, extension 11.