ONC Seeks Public Comment on RFI on Governance of the Nationwide Health Information Network

Jodi G. Daniel | May 11, 2012

The release today of the Request for Information (RFI) on Governance of the Nationwide Health Information Network is a critical step toward enabling trusted and interoperable electronic health information exchange (electronic exchange) nationwide. A common set of “rules of the road” for privacy, security, business and technical requirements will help lay the necessary foundation to enable our nation’s electronic health information exchange capacity to grow. It can also help achieve the Administration’s vision for an electronically connected health system for the 21st Century that delivers efficient and quality health care for all Americans.

A properly crafted governance mechanism will yield substantial public benefits, including:

  • Reduced burden and complexity for exchanging electronic health information;
  • Protections for consumers and health care providers; and
  • An environment where electronic health information exchange is commonplace and “worry-free.”

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (P.L. 111-5) delegates authority for establishing a governance mechanism for the nationwide health information network to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

RFI Seeks Public Input on Governance Mechanism

This RFI seeks the public’s input on how a governance mechanism would best:

  • Provide confidence to patients that their health information is being shared appropriately and securely;
  • Reassure providers they are dealing with trusted entities when sending or receiving patient information;
  • Promote an open and competitive market for electronic health information exchange; and
  • Enable innovation to thrive.

Key Components of the Proposed Governance Approach

The key components of the proposed governance approach include:

  • A focus on entities that facilitate electronic health information exchange;
  • A set of conditions for trusted exchange (CTEs) in three areas: safeguards, interoperability, and business practices;
  • A voluntary validation process for entities to demonstrate conformance to the CTEs and to increase provider confidence that the exchange entities meet these requirements;
  • Processes to regularly update and improve CTEs;
  • A process to classify the readiness of technical standards and implementation specifications to support interoperability CTEs; and
  • Approaches for monitoring and transparent oversight

Public Comment Period

In order to receive the best input from all stakeholders on governance issues to help promote electronic health information exchange, the RFI includes many questions about these proposals. The public comment period closes 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register, which we expect to occur on May 15, 2012.

We encourage all stakeholders, including consumers and patients, to provide feedback on these proposals. The RFI can be currently viewed and downloaded at the Office of the Federal Register’s Public Inspection website.

For more information on health information technology and electronic health information exchange, visit HealthIT.gov.