Stakeholders to ONC: We need leadership for HIE governance

Town Hall creates outpouring of concern from the trenches
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Health information exchange stakeholders concerned about a lack of technical standards, distrust among providers and security of patient information, want more federal guidance for HIE governance, according to participants in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's HIE Governance town hall, held Jan. 17.

For instance, the variability of technical standards is causing connectivity problems between providers, and the variability of policies regarding who can view patient information is stopping the flow of data, according to Paul Wilder of the New York eHealth Collaborative, who spoke at the meeting.

"It's a disconnect," Wilder said. He suggested that minimum baseline standards be followed and eliminated as the baseline moves up.

The webinar-based interactive session, hosted by National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, was an opportunity for the agency to learn from vendors, providers and others regarding the successes and challenges they were facing regarding HIE governance.

"We want statements, not questions," Mostashari said.

Listeners obliged, expressing worry about a myriad of issues, including the sustainability of HIEs, sharing data across state lines, the costs of participation in data exchange, and even control of incoming spam. One participant said that top-down governance guidance was "desperately needed."    

Mostashari confirmed in September that ONC will provide voluntary guidelines, not a formal rule, to facilitate the governance of HIEs. "The consensus of comments was that it was premature to establish a regulatory approach to governance," he said during the town hall.

ONC will hold another town hall meeting Feb. 14, as well as a committee meeting on HIEs open to the public Jan. 29.

To learn more:
- sign up for the next town hall
- read the blog post

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