Accenture, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Oracle and Sun are among a wide range of technology and consulting companies tapped recently to design a $18.6 million Nationwide Health Information Network for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.The NHIN is HHS\u2019s plan for an Internet-based\u00a0network that links disparate healthcare organizations, such as local clinics, city hospitals, universities and government health agencies to share and have secure access to clinical data.\u201cThis effort will help design an information network that will transform our healthcare system resulting in higher quality, lower costs, less hassle and better care for American consumers,\u201d\u00a0HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a statement.The NHIN will be designed and rolled out through four consortia, each consisting of several IT, consulting, security and healthcare companies and organizations. Accenture, Computer Science Corporation (CSC), IBM and Northrop Grumman. Each consortia are responsible for NHIN coverage in specific areas of the country.Each consortia will put together a protytype IP-based network prototype during the coming year. These networks will include patient identification and information services combined with user authentication and security features. When the prototypes are finished, the results will be given to the American Health Information Community, an advisory committee to the HHS and focused on digitizing and network-enabling healthcare records.The four NHIN consortia are broken down as follows:Accenture will lead:\u00b7\u00a0Apelon\u00b7\u00a0Cisco\u00b7\u00a0CGI-AMS\u00b7\u00a0Creative Computing Solutions\u00b7\u00a0eTech Security Pro\u00b7\u00a0Intellithought\u00b7\u00a0Lucent Glow\u00b7\u00a0Oakland Consulting Group\u00b7\u00a0Oracle\u00b7\u00a0QuovadxMarkets served include: Eastern Kentucky Regional Health Community (Kentucky); CareSpark (Tennessee); and West Virginia eHealth Initiative (West Virginia).CSC will lead:\u00b7\u00a0Browsersoft\u00b7\u00a0Business Networks International\u00b7\u00a0Center for Information Technology Leadership\u00b7\u00a0Connecting for Health\u00b7\u00a0DB Consulting Group\u00b7\u00a0eHealth Initiative\u00b7\u00a0Electronic Health Record Vendors Association\u00b7\u00a0Microsoft\u00b7\u00a0Regenstrief Institute\u00b7\u00a0SiloSmashers\u00b7\u00a0Sun\u00a0Markets served include: Indiana Health Information Exchange (Indiana); MA-SHARE (Massachusetts); and Mendocino HRE (California).IBM will lead:\u00b7\u00a0Argosy\u00b7\u00a0Business Innovation\u00b7\u00a0Cisco\u00b7\u00a0HMS Technologies\u00b7\u00a0IDL Solutions\u00b7\u00a0Ingenium\u00b7\u00a0VICCSMarkets served include: Taconic Health Information Network and Community (New York); North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance (Research Triangle North Carolina); and North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance (Rockingham CountyNorth Carolina).Northrop Grumman will lead:\u00b7\u00a0Air Commander\u00b7\u00a0Axolotl\u00b7\u00a0Client\/Server Software Solutions\u00b7\u00a0First Consulting Group\u00b7\u00a0SphereCom Enterprises\u00b7\u00a0WebMDMarkets served include: Santa Cruz RHIO (Santa Cruz, Calif.); and HealthBridge (Cincinnati, Ohio); University Hospitals Health System (Cleveland).