CCHIT urges private-public partnership to govern the NwHIN
The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) believes a private-public partnership would be better to run the future Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN), rather than a federal body alone.
According to Karen Bell, MD, chair of CCHIT and former director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Office of Health Information Technology Adoption, governance of the NwHIN would need stakeholders from all angles of the project, including public health officials, providers, consumers and even third party users outside of the federal government.
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"It should be really broad," Bell said of a future governing body. She also noted that ONC, as a participant in the private-public partnership, would still able to benefit from its current advisory committees, but they would not be the only source of stakeholder input.
ONC is required under the stimulus package to establish a governing body for the NwHIN. Bell's comments follow CCHIT's recommendations, made June 26, in response to ONC's request for public comment, closing on June 29. Bell said CCHIT's comments were based on a thorough review of ONC's request for information by the commission's experts.
Bell also cautioned against too much federal interference with standards for the NwHIN, while the industry is still in such an formative state.
The request for information (RFI), which is the very first step the federal government takes to proceed with a regulation, recommended how ONC would provide infrastructure to validate what groups could participate in the NwHIN.
"It quickly got into very specific questions down in the weeds," Bell said. There has been a lot of discussion all over the country right now about what the specific requirements to participate in the NwHIN should be, she said. Some people think there should be federal regulations set, while others, like CCHIT, feel it is too premature for that. "We haven't been at this long. We haven't done enough of this," she said of the vast undertaking of interoperabity.
IT requirements shouldn't be imposed at this stage. It's too much pressure on the business side of health IT. "We think that's the better approach," she said.
Bell's best guess on timing of this issue is that the ONC's notice of proposed rulemaking-the next step on the road to final regulations-will be a while in coming. "There's been so much discussion and so much input on [the RFI], it will take ONC some time to get through it, she said.
CCHIT's full comments to the RFI can be found here.