ONC Announces Voluntary Guidelines for HIE Governance

HIE Governance Framework for Trusted Electronic Health Information Exchange

HIE GovernanceLast month the ONC released the Governance Framwork for Trusted Electronic Health Information Exchange document. The framework was created by combining federal priorities and industry feedback from the HIT Standards and Policy Committees to form the newly-published guidance.

The framework is important to healthcare organizations and physicians implementing health information exchange (HIE) because it aims to create a common foundation for “HIE governance”— the standards by which all HIE will occur — while providing developers the flexibility to innovate. Standardization is absolutely essential to the success of HIE, facilitating the safe and secure transfer of patient data by creating a common “language” for HIT systems. At the same time, it is a voluntary guidance not a regulation, allowing provider needs and market demands to drive innovation and shape the evolution of useful HIE.

CMS eHealth has sent communication explaining how HIE fits with the current adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and other CMS eHealth programs. Guidance from the framework helps establish consistent parameters for HIEs, helping providers to exchange data more easily and therefore successfully participate in the eHealth programs.

You will see this in Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs when providers are required to exchange EHR data with health care organizations as well as exchange patient health information when care is transitioned from one provider to another. These are requirements for meaningful use of certified EHR technology. In Accountable Care Organizations they will be able to use data acquired from exchanges to make informed decisions that reduce costs, which is a key focus of eHealth.

Moving forward will mean leveraging eHealth across the public and private sector among all those involved in healthcare, from payer to provider to policy-maker to patient. This HIE governance framework is designed to be a living document which, over the course of time, will be updated to ensure that its principles continue to provide helpful direction for the industry, with a focus on continuous improvement and addressing evolving needs. CMS encourages providers, hospitals, developers and implementers of HIE to provide ONC with feedback and help to make the framework as useful as possible.