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ONC, NIST Collaborate for Improved Health Information Access

April 6, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are partnering to find projects that will focus on the way that patients and providers access health information from different organizations online.

Specifically, the organizations are looking for projects that will pilot solutions to access health information that are privacy-enhancing, secure and resilient, interoperable, and cost-effective and easy-to-use, NIST officials said in a blog post. “For this funding opportunity, we’re looking to solve this problem through deployment of federated identity credentials in healthcare. Using the same credential across multiple healthcare providers can make life easier for users by simplifying and speeding up sign-in processes. For providers, making strides in the efficiency of accessing medical records means time and money saved – and, if done right, better outcomes for security and privacy,” the post read.

ONC and NIST are looking for projects that:

  • Pilot a federated credential solution in which at least two hospitals or regional healthcare systems accept a federated, verified identity that leverages multi-factor authentication and an effective identity proofing process.
  • Enable online access to at least two organizationally separate healthcare organizations.
  • Demonstrate that the federated credential solution aligns with the Identity Ecosystem Framework Requirements.
  • Allow for interoperability with other identity federations in the healthcare sector and, where possible, other sectors.
  • Include collecting metrics and other information about the implementation of the federated credential solution that can contribute to a best practices guidance document.

“Reducing the number of siloed identity solutions using federated credentials aligns with the calls to action in ONC’s Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap,” Rose-Marie Nsahlai, lead IT security specialist at ONC, said. “The ease of use and convenience provided by a federated identity solution will help to accelerate clinician adoption of new digital health solutions. We look forward to seeing new ideas and solutions unfold and increased adoption of quality identity solutions in healthcare.”

For this pilot solicitation, NIST anticipates funding one award in the range of $750,000 to $1 million for 18 months. The deadline to apply is June 1.

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