Feds turn over CONNECT messaging platform to private sector

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The Federal Health Architecture and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT are ending support for an open source software project that promotes healthcare interoperability.

CONNECT enables secure electronic health data exchange among providers, insurers, government agencies and consumer services. However, it’s been 10 years since federal agencies first co-developed the messaging platform, and the government now wants to transition the project to the private sector.

“As an open source project, the software code and community resources can be adopted and implemented by any interested organization, but the government will no longer be involved and therefore will not endorse or verify the quality of the resources previously managed by the CONNECT Community under FHA’s guidance,” according to an announcement.

“As part of ending the support for CONNECT, the FHA and ONC will be shutting down the CONNECT Wiki on September 6,” the agencies announced. “Please take steps to download and preserve the documentation you will need from this site before this date.”

A blog co-written by Sherilyn Pruitt, director of ONC’s Office of Programs and Engagement, and Avinash Shanbhag, director of the Nationwide Health Information Network Division at HHS, notes that the final version of the software, CONNECT 5.3, was released in July and is available online.

According to Pruitt and Shanbhag, during its decade-long history, CONNECT has served many roles, including electronically connecting federal agencies and private sector organizations to the eHealth Exchange.

“It provided code reused by private developers as part of their own electronic health record and interoperability solutions,” they state. “And notably, it helped test early interoperability specifications, which allowed standards development organizations to better provide feedback and promote standards.”

Pruitt and Shanbhag contend that “by implementing and testing emerging healthcare interoperability standards, the federal agencies that support the development of CONNECT performed a real service to our country.”

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