Open Source HIE Initiative Described

Alembic Foundation Continues Work of Connect Initiative
David Riley, president of the new Alembic Foundation, explains how the organization is promoting the use of open source software based on the Nationwide Health Information Network standards.The Alembic Foundation is rebranding the Connect open source software as Aurion, taking over the project from the federal government to promote its broader use for health information exchange, Riley says.

Riley, who also played a leadership role in the Connect initiative, says Aurion eventually could be used to support the exchange of personally identifiable information in other business sectors beyond healthcare. Alembic will issue an updated version of the software, Aurion 4.0, on May 3. As with earlier versions, it will include details on security.

The Nationwide Health Information Network is a set of standards, services and policies that enable the secure exchange of health information over the Internet. Connect (now Aurion) incorporates those standards. In the Exchange project, five government agencies and five private organizations have been using Connect for health information exchange. Some software companies also have developed products based, in part, on Connect.

The Alembic Foundation hopes to broaden use of the rebranded Aurion software far beyond the initial Exchange participants. Organizations can use the open source software to make complex queries and then "pull" information about a patient from multiple sources.

In an interview, Riley describes:

  • The foundation, its mission and its plans for the Aurion software;
  • The security and authentication functions of Aurion;
  • How future versions of the software will permit patients to control which portions of the record can be shared.
  • How the pending NHIN Governance Rule will affect those using Aurion and others using the NHIN standards.

The foundation will host a "town hall meeting" webinar April 12 to gain input on its policies and priorities.

For more information on NHIN, see also ONC's Fridsma on Security for HIEs.

Before becoming a founding principle for the Alembic Foundation, Riley was the Connect initiative lead for the Federal Health Architecture program in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT within the Department of Health and Human Services. In this role, he coordinated numerous, diverse federal agencies, states and private sector organizations to enhance health information sharing on a nationwide basis. His work at FHA resulted in the development and release of the Connect software as well as in the formation of the Connect open source community. Previously, he served as the chief for technology discovery and insertion for the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

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