A federal policy work group is seeking public comment on its set of draft recommendations on how to best govern a proposed nationwide network for health information exchange.
Governance work group wants input on network
If healthcare leaders want to contribute to that effort, they’ll have to act fast: The deadline is Nov. 3.
A request for comment is posted at the Federal Advisory Committee Blog on the website of HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The request has been made by John Lumpkin, chairman of the governance work group of the Health IT Policy Committee. The policy committee was created pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to advise the ONC on IT issues. The governance work group first met Sept. 3.
A template that members of the public can use in making their critiques of the governance guidelines is also at the website.
Lumpkin said members hope to turn around the public comments and have “the basics” of their final set of recommendations to the Health IT Policy Committee by Nov. 19. From there, he said, the recommendations will be forwarded to the ONC, with a proposed rule expected to be released for public comment in three to six months.
A federal proposal to develop what was then called a national health information network, a “network of networks,” dates back to 2004. The NHIN went nowhere throughout the second half of the Bush administration, at least in part because of provider funding constraints. Now, however, with Congress offering providers $27 billion in electronic health- record subsidy money, creating an actual network has taken on a new urgency.
The current paradigm no longer is that of a “network of networks,” in which the bulk of information would flow through regional exchanges, Lumpkin said. The government has begun development of NHIN Direct, a technology framework for “peer-to-peer” communication between providers, capable of bypassing regional or state information organizations.
He said the work group is addressing governance because the stimulus law requires the committee to do so, but also because some states, in the absence of federal guidelines, are developing models on their own. Lumpkin said it was “essential” to make the governance decisions needed to foster growth and expansion of health information exchange.
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