ONC Activities Support Governance of Nationwide Health Information Exchange

Earlier this year, ONC issued a request for information regarding a potential governance mechanism for the nationwide health information network.  Based on the comments and feedback we received from multiple stakeholders, ONC announced in September that we would not be issuing federal regulations. Instead, we committed to launch a range of activities to support existing governance initiatives and advance governance goals of nationwide health information exchange: increase interoperability, decrease the cost and complexity of exchange, and increase trust among participants to mobilize trusted exchange to support patient care. 

Below, are some of the activities ONC is undertaking to promote emerging good governing practices within and across communities.

  • Today, we are issuing a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). The FOA will allow ONC to work collaboratively with entities already involved in governance of health information exchange to encourage the continued development and adoption of policies, interoperability requirements, and business practices that will increase the ease of electronic health information exchange, reduce implementation costs, and assure the privacy and security of data being exchanged.
  • In January, ONC will host an open listening session on governance of health information exchange, to provide opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders to describe their issues, priorities, and critical concerns.
  • Building upon this input from stakeholders, the HIT Policy Committee and HIT Standards Committee will hold a public hearing on January 29, 2012, to further discuss the current state of health information exchange.  The hearing will highlight the significant amount of exchange activity that is occurring today and the practices that enabled or impeded it; the health information exchange opportunities and needs of providers as they take on new payment models; the nature and scope of governance policies and practices of entities currently providing governance to different types of exchange communities, the impact of governance on information exchange, and the opportunities to strengthen governance at multiple levels.
  • In the first quarter of 2013, the National e-health Collaborative, through our cooperative agreement, will convene key stakeholder governance entities.  These entities, whose decisions establish policies and practices for a given community of exchange partners, will work throughout the coming year to identify key issues and common problems in the governance of health information exchange and the best ways to address them.
  • ONC plans to publish a series of governance guidelines for effective and trusted electronic health information exchange.  Through this effort, ONC hopes to guide emerging governance models on the policies and practices that should be considered as part of their approach to governance.
  • ONC will also launch a monitoring program to ensure the governance goals are being addressed.

ONC will be holding a technical assistance call on January 7, 2012, at 2:00 pm EST for applicants interested in applying for the FOA.

The overarching goal for ONC remains that the information follow the patient where and when it is needed, across organizational, vendor, and geographic boundaries.  We hope that you agree that we have initiated a robust series of activities to accomplish this goal.  We look forward to your input as we move forward.  It will take all of us to be successful.