The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology scheduled another closed-door session of a federal policy advisory work group Wednesday, except this time only about half of the meeting was closed to the public.
The national health information network work group of the Health Information Technology Policy Committee met in public session from 10 a.m. until about 12:50 p.m. ET.
At the open portion of the meeting, work group members heard testimony from for-profit companies and not-for-profit organizations about electronic provider directories they have developed. According to the meeting agenda, the NHIN work group was to reconvene at 1:15 p.m. in a closed work group session lasting until 5 p.m.
According to Farzad Mostashari, an ONC senior adviser who spoke at the meeting, the early focus of the government's efforts to get the NHIN operational will be on basic, so-called “push” functionality that will enable one provider or healthcare organization to send a clinical message to another.
He said push technology will be good enough for many of the early expected transactions providers will need to carry out electronically to demonstrate they have achieved so-called “meaningful use” of their electronic health-record systems.
As such, building or identifying NHIN-usable existing provider and organizational directories—very much like electronic phone books—are a requisite early step that also will be useful as the national network expands and accommodates more robust electronic communications, according to Mostashari. He said the Jan. 7 NHIN work group meeting will hear testimony about authentication and identity-management issues.
By law, the HIT Policy Committee is to operate under the Federal Advisory Committee Act which, generally, requires open meetings, with certain specific exceptions. Last week, the Obama administration issued an 11-page directive requiring all executive branch agencies to foster openness and transparency at the federal level of government.
A privacy and security work group of the HIT Policy Committee met Dec. 8 also behind closed doors.
The ONC has not responded to telephone and e-mail requests to cite the legal authority and explain the rationale for holding the work group meetings in private.