The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S. W.
Washington, D. C. 20201
Dear Secretary Thompson:
On behalf of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS), I am pleased to submit the report of the NCVHS Workgroup on the National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII), which was approved by the full Committee at its November 15, 2001, meeting. Information for Health: A Strategy for Building the National Health Information Infrastructure builds on the Workgroup's Interim Report of June 2000 and is the culmination of an 18-month review that included hearings and consultations with healthcare providers, public health professionals, consumer representatives, and healthcare information technology representatives.
Recent events make this report both timely and urgent. They have dramatically underscored the importance of an effective, comprehensive health information infrastructure that links all health decisionmakers, including the public. Based on public hearings about the NHII, the Committee has determined that Federal leadership, under the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the most important missing ingredient that could accelerate and coordinate progress on the NHII. Its recommendations therefore include specific proposals for HHS oversight and coordination, supportive action by Congress, and appropriate efforts by other organizations. The latter include State and local governments, healthcare providers, health plans and purchasers, standards development organizations, the information technology industry, consumer advocacy groups, community organizations, and academic and research organizations.
NCVHS urges HHS to exercise leadership in building the National Health Information Infrastructure and to give it the priority it deserves, in collaboration with the many stakeholders whose participation will be crucial for success. The Committee would welcome annual status reports from the Department on this project, beginning in 2002.
Finally, the Committee offers its advice and enthusiastic support for all efforts aimed at developing the NHII.
John R. Lumpkin, M. D., M. P. H.
Chair, National Committee on Vital and