Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
Last year, ONC issued a Request for Information (RFI) to gather public input on a potential regulatory approach that would have spelled out “conditions for trusted exchange” (safeguards, technical, and business practice) through rulemaking, and establish a voluntary accreditation and certification process for validating organizations as being legitimate participants in the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN).
We started with an RFI because we recognized that the health information exchange marketplace is still in its infancy, and we wanted to get broad input before issuing a proposed rule.
How ONC is Promoting Health Information Exchange Governance
Based on what we heard, I noted in a blog from last September that we decided not to continue with the formal rulemaking process and instead implement an approach that provides a means for defining and implementing nationwide trusted exchange with higher agility, and lower likelihood of regret. And, in a December 2012 blog, I explained in greater detail some of the activities ONC intended to take on to promote good governing practices within and across communities.
Since that blog ONC has been actively listening to and collaborating with stakeholders through:
- listening sessions,
- a joint HIT Policy Committee and HIT Standards Committee hearing,
- new partnerships with governance entities, and
- the recently announced National Health Information Exchange Governance Forum.
Governance Framework for Trusted Electronic Health Information Exchange
Today, I’m pleased to announce that ONC has just released the “Governance Framework for Trusted Electronic Health Information Exchange.” We were told in comments that ONC needs to establish a policy framework for private actors to align with. The Governance Framework reflects what matters most to ONC when it comes to national health information exchange governance and the principles in which ONC believes. We’ve published this framework to provide a common foundation for all types of governance models. Entities that set health information exchange policy should look to the Governance Framework’s principles as a way to align their work with national priorities. It is critical that we are all working from a similar understanding of the expectations for nationwide electronic health information exchange. This Framework is an important step to set that direction.
Governance Framework Principles
As we continue to work with all of you on this issue, expect us to follow the four key categories of principles discussed in the Governance Framework and to ask you how you’re addressing them:
- Trust Principles: Guide health information exchange governance entities on patient privacy, meaningful choice, and data management in health information exchange;
- Business Principles: Focus on responsible financial and operational policies for governance entities, with emphasis on transparency and health information exchange with the patients best interests in mind;
- Technical Principles: Express priorities for the use of standards in order to support the Trust and Business Principles as well as furthering the execution of interoperability; and
- Organizational Principles: Identify generally applicable approaches for good self-governance.
Finally, I want to emphasize that we intend for the Governance Framework to be a living document. As we learn with you, we will consider updating these principles over time to reflect policy changes, technological maturity, and market innovations, as necessary.
We look forward to discussing the Governance Framework with all stakeholders.
This article was originally published on the ONC’s Health IT Buzz blog and is used here with permission.