DirectTrust, EHNAC to work with ONC to advance direct exchange of health information

Brian Ahier

Exemplar HIE Governance Entities Announced

In the fall of 2012 the ONC decided that now is not the time for regulations on health information exchange governance. They decided to instead implement an approach that provides a means for defining and implementing nationwide trusted exchange with higher agility, by working in concert with the private market in a collaborative manner. On December 20, 2012 ONC released the Exemplar Health Information Exchange Governance Entities Program Funding Opportunity Announcement. Two organizations have now been awarded a cooperative agreement by the ONC to participate in the program. This work will support and advance the efforts of these existing governance entities which will benefit consumers and providers by allowing health information to flow securely between unaffiliated healthcare organizations.

DirectTrust (I am a member of the Board of Directors of DirectTrust) is one of the awardees in the program. They will work with ONC to develop and adopt policies, interoperability requirements and business practices that align with national priorities, overcome EHR interoperability challenges, reduce implementation costs for providers and patients, and assure the privacy and security of health information exchange. DirectTrust will work with ONC to implement the technical mechanism and process for trust anchor exchange to enable Directed exchange more easily across vendor boundaries, as well as to develop and implement a federated agreement among accredited participants that avoids the need for one to one legal agreements. They will also continue development of the national accreditation program for health information service providers (HISPs), certificate authorities (CAs), and registration authorities (RA) who act as trusted agents on behalf of users of Directed exchange. The accreditation program, launched in November 2012 in partnership with the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC), is targeted to achieve wide scale participation by the end of 2013.

“The work that will be done by DirectTrust will be crucial in promoting good governance practices and enhancing the exchange of patients’ health information,” said ONC’s Claudia Williams, program director, State Health Information Exchange Program. “I encourage ONC grantees, vendors, providers and health information exchange initiatives to work closely with DirectTrust in an effort that will help to improve the care and health of patients.”

The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) will also participate in the Exemplar HIE Governance Program on behalf of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup (IWG). In partnership with the ONC the workgroup will continue its efforts in developing robust implementation specifications for ‘plug and play’ interoperability. The IWG will attempt to address the implementation challenges facing the exchange of health information including patient matching and querying provider directories. The IWG recently selected the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) to carry out compliance testing against the workgroup’s agreed upon specifications. “We are thrilled that the ONC has recognized the significant contributions of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup in driving the development and implementation of plug and play exchange standards,” said Dave Whitlinger, Executive Director of the New York eHealth Collaborative.

Brian Ahier is a leading voice and blogger on Health IT. This article originally appeared on his blog, Healthcare, Technology & Government 2.0. You can follow Brian on Google+ and on Twitter @Ahier.

Download the podcast of our April 2, 2013 MU Live! show with Lee Barrett, Executive Director, EHNAC and Dr. David Kibbe, President of discussing the challenges of health information exchange and interoperability.