Nationwide Health Information Network

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The Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) is "a set of standards, services, and policies that enable the secure exchange of health information over the Internet". NwHIN is a project of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, or ONC. [1]


NwHIN (originally abbreviated as NHIN) has been under development since 2004. Development included two phases. During the first, consortia were formed to create and assess architectural prototypes for exchange based on agreed-upon standards. Priority areas for exhanges and sample use cases addressing factors such as security and business models were developed and evaluated, including the solicitation and review of public input from relevant committees. The second phase of development involved trial implementations for information exchanges. Both Federal agencies and providers at private organizations were included in these implementation trials. [2]

ONC defines NwHIN's scope of activities as follows:

  • Ability to find and retrieve healthcare information within and between health information exchanges and other organizations
  • Ability to deliver a summarized patient record to support patient care and to support the patient's health.
  • Ability to support consumer preferences regarding the exchange of his or her information, including the ability to choose not to participate in the NHIN
  • Support secure information exchange
  • Support of a common trust agreement that establishes the obligations and assurances to which all NHIN participants agree
  • Ability to match patients to their data without a national patient identifier
  • Support of harmonized standards, which have been developed by voluntary consensus standards bodies for exchange of health information among all such entities and networks. [2]


Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange

The Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange is not a physical network for storing or transmitting electronic information. Rather, it is a cooperative group composed of both private organizations and governmental agencies at the federal level.[1] This group will exchange health information between members.

The Direct Project

The Direct Project encompasses the development and implementation of policies, standards, and technological specifications for health information exchange. By standardizing these structures, more efficient, more rapid, less expensive exchange between organizations can be facilitated.[1]


CONNECT is a tool for exchange that has been designed utilizing the aforementioned standards as defined by the Nationwide Health Information Network. As part of an effort to foster technological collaboration at the national and local level, the CONNECT software is provided free of charge to organizations.[1]

External Websites

The Direct Project. [2]

Related Articles

An Electronic Health Record-Public Health (EHR-PH) System Prototype for Interoperability in 21st Century Healthcare Systems


1. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Nationwide Health Information Network: History & Background. [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2012 Jun 3]. Available from: 2. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Nationwide Health Information Network: Overview. [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2012 Jun 3]. Available from:

Submitted by Sara Hayden