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Liberty Alliance Response to National Health Information Network RFI

Liberty Alliance Project Responds to RFI From U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Consortium's Widely Implemented Specifications Focus on Privacy, Confidentiality and Security, Cited as Core Issues in Healthcare

New York, NY, USA. January 18, 2005.

Liberty Alliance, the global consortium for open federated identity standards and identity Web-based services, today announced that it had submitted a formal response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) Request for Information (RFI) on "Development and Adoption of a National Health Information Network." The response was submitted on behalf of Liberty's 150-member base, and addresses possible methods by which widespread interoperability and health information exchange can be deployed and operated on a sustainable basis. Liberty also participated in a joint filing authored by 13 organizations, including the Markle Foundation, HIMSS, the AMIA, ANSI and a number of other organizations.

Liberty's federated identity standards and business guidelines focus on privacy, confidentiality and security, offering the flexible, secure and open infrastructure that is required to support and manage online services and transactions that are necessary in healthcare. Liberty Alliance first introduced its specifications publicly in April 2002, and has since issued several additional revs of these specifications. The specifications have been implemented by organizations worldwide, and in fact it is estimated that there will be in excess of 400 million Liberty-enabled identities and devices by the end of 2005.

The LAP specifications are both open and non-proprietary, thereby enabling a wide variety of competitive, but interoperable, implementations and deployments. This permits a broad range of parties to participate in networks and to rapidly, accurately, and almost simultaneously achieve the authentications and exchanges necessary to engage in health care-related activities. The specifications have been built to support secure participation across multiple platforms, with an emphasis on interoperability. These are essential elements to forging an integrated national health network from the diverse components that presently exist.

ONCHIT issued the public RFI to obtain information that can be used to help develop a new vision for healthcare through the use of information technology, with the intention of developing a strategic plan to implement over the next 10 years. The initial RFI addresses the goal of interconnecting clinicians and the use of Electronic Health Records so that health information can be exchanged using advanced and secure electronic communication.

"Liberty's vision statement — enabling a networked world in which individuals and businesses can more easily conduct transactions while protecting the privacy and security of identity information — is at the heart of what the Health and Human Services Department is trying to achieve with this project," explained Donal O'Shea, executive director of the Liberty Alliance. "We firmly believe the adoption of federated identity is key to a viable national health network that protects the privacy and security of all members. A National Health Information Network would expand the reach of our healthcare system and help contain escalating healthcare costs. These are undeniable social benefits, and LAP's members are proud to be associated with this effort. This is the first such RFI we have responded to as a member consortium-and we look forward to assisting in any efforts that might emerge from our submission."

Further to its healthcare focus, the Liberty Alliance will also participate in the HIMSS (Health Information and Management Systems Society) annual conference in Dallas, TX, Feb. 13-17, 2005. It will showcase a demonstration of its specifications in use in a healthcare setting, as well as present on the topic of "Efficiency, Effectiveness and Regulatory Compliance in Healthcare: The Promise of the Liberty Alliance and Federated Identity Management."

About the Liberty Alliance

Liberty Alliance ( is an alliance of more than 150 companies, non-profit and government organizations from around the globe. The consortium is committed to developing an open standard for federated network identity that supports all current and emerging network devices. Federated identity offers businesses, governments, employees and consumers a more convenient and secure way to control identity information in today's digital economy, and is a key component in driving the use of e-commerce, personalized data services, as well as Web-based services. Membership is open to all commercial and non-commercial organizations. The 2005 Board is comprised of the following sixteen companies: American Express, AOL, Ericsson, Fidelity Investments, France Telecom, General Motors, HP, IBM, Intel, Nokia, Novell, Oracle, RSA Security, Sun Microsystems, VeriSign, and Vodafone Group.


Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See also: (1) "XML in Clinical Research and Healthcare Industries"; (2) "Liberty Alliance Specifications for Federated Network Identification and Authorization."

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