Federal Reserve Board Eyes New Role in Medical Banking

The Medical Banking Report, July|August Vol. 3, No. 4

As ONCHIT seeks to harmonize standards, technology and architecture to create an electronic health records system, another effort suddenly finds itself in the landscape of the possible for implementing our “medical internet”.

While related to the work of the Medical Banking Project, the new “Independent Health Record Bank” (IHRB) is far different. Yet the profile of IHRBs in medical banking was signficantly raised when a new House bill seeking to establish IHRBs appointed the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) as the governance agency.

Because IHRBs can emerge external to existing banking infrastructure, MBProject doesn’t classify it as a pure medical banking play. Core to medical banking is leveraging existing banking systems for healthcare. Yet if IHRBs gain traction banks will likely get much more involved, especially if the FRB is involved.

“Yes, the IHRB can be implemented outside of banks but it can also work within the banking community,” insists Amnon Shabo, PhD., in an email to MBR. Shabo, who did early work in creating the IHRB model, works at IBM’s Almaden Institute in Haifa, Israel. Yet offering the new service could present challenges to banks. The proposed “Independent Health Record Bank Act of 2006” suggests that IHRBs are non-profit entities only, and that they are right off the bat, a HIPAA clearinghouse.