A community health information network (CHIN) provides technology-based information services to help maintain optimal health for all the residents of a community. Defining features of a CHIN are that its services are available to all stakeholders and that competitors collaborate to share information. The initial impetus for a CHIN is usually to facilitate paying for health care or to share clinical records. Complex legal, organizational, funding, and control issues confront CHIN initiators, and reliable models do not exist today. During development, issues of program focus and technology selection arise, followed by concerns about information privacy and the CHIN's role in quality of care. Once basic capabilities are implemented, a mature CHIN can offer extensive cost-recovering health-related services to providers, related agencies, and consumers. Developments are underway that eventually will allow a CHIN to support a fully integrated longitudinal health record. A national network of mature CHINs would offer health care professionals further collaborative possibilities that could change the shape of future health care.
© 1995 Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives