About Us

CHITA is operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Health Care Quality, a non-profit, public-private partnership engaged in research efforts and projects focused on addressing the shared health information needs of insurance and managed care companies, physicians, hospitals, and medical clinics, as well as health care purchasers and consumers.

The CHITA Board serves as the Management Committee of CHITA, and is responsible for the policy-making and strategic planning of the program. Management of day-to-day operations and general administrative or resource management issues are handled by the Staff of the Foundation.

For more information on the role CHITA and Health IT have played in the history of the Foundation for Health Care Quality, please visit our About Us page, which provides a link to a publication on the 20+ year history of the Foundation and more context on the role the organization has played in improving healthcare in Washington state.

Our Mission

Cheetah in the grass

The mission of the Community Health Information Technology Alliance (CHITA) is to advance the adoption of information technology in healthcare for the purpose of improving efficiency and quality of care.

CHITA’s Circle of Life

CHITA was founded in 1996 by payers and providers in Washington State to address the issue of e-commerce in healthcare, with a focus on interoperability and data security. Its management team built the organization’s structure and formalized its operating principles in early 1997, and the alliance’s first Work Groups addressed eligibility and referral transactions.

In its first national collaboration, CHITA worked with the Minnesota Health Data Institute and the Massachusetts Health Data Consortium to hold a national summit funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in February of 1998. The topic was developing a model for secure transactions over the internet.

This conference led to a five-state RWJF-funded demonstration project involving MHDI, MHDC, North Carolina Healthcare Information & Communications Alliance and the Utah Health Information Network. CHITA’s role in the $2.3 million grant involved demonstrating secure transmission of clinical data from the labs to the state department of health to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The project demonstrated that the time required for receipt of infectious disease outbreak data to the CDC could be reduced from and average of three weeks to two days. During this time CHITA ceased operating as a membership-focused organization.

By 1999, CHITA had begun focusing most of its efforts on issues related to privacy and security of health data transmission using Internet technologies. CHITA became the regional SNIP affiliate for WEDI and began staffing quarterly HIPAA Readiness Forums in February 2000 to help the community prepare for new federal regulations and their approaching deadlines regarding these issues. In addition to IT initiatives, CHITA developed a standard referral form for providers and payors that is still in use today. It also formed the Pacific West HIPAA Congress, which produced free sample HIPAA privacy forms for Washington and surrounding states.

In mid-2002 CHITA began rebuilding its Board and operating as a membership-focused organization again. Organizations represented on the Board included a diverse range of supporters:

Swedish Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Evergreen Healthcare, Valley Medical Center, Northwest Kidney Centers, Highline Mental Health, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Seattle-King County Department of Health, KPS Health Plans, Washington Dental Service/Delta Dental, Breakwater Security, Edifecs, Hall Kinion, Fox Systems, ZixCorp and Bennett, Bigelow and Leedom.

CHITA’s Next Generation

CHITA has returned to supporting projects. It served as the initial facilitator in a February 2004, $2.5 million grant received by the Foundation for Health Care Quality from the Department of Defense for developing an electronic infectious disease tracking system in the Northwest. In March of 2004 CHITA initiated a Capstone Project with University of Washington Masters candidates under whom models for the electronic transmission of clinical data between organizations in Washington State would be reviewed, with recommendations generated regarding which models and components offer the most promise in the state.

CHITA also continues to educate the community. Its highly successful, quarterly HIPAA Readiness Forums—attended by hundreds and hundreds over the years—continued into 2005, when they began focusing on other topics and issues relevant to the healthcare and technology communities. Now known simply as the CHITA Forums, recent presentations or panel discussions have included the following topics: navigating the labyrinth of state and national standards, responding to identity theft and lost laptops, reports on new community initiatives like the Puget Sound Health Alliance, and the development of electronic health records.

CHITA carries the mantel of being a neutral third party where providers, payers, vendors, government, consumers and others can collaborate to improve quality of care and efficiency in healthcare by advancing the adoption of information technologies. However, its Board is revitalized and looking for new opportunities and initiatives for meeting the organization’s ongoing mission. The CHITA Forums continue to be a benefit to the community, and are run by a strong group of supporters. And membership benefits are being reorganized and expanded.

CHITA enters into its second decade with the speed and agility that its logo suggests!

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