NYeC, NY Public Health Department create PHI committee

By Mike Miliard
01:07 PM

The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), in partnership with the New York State Department of Health, has established the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHINY-NY) Policy Committee.

The committee will be tasked with updating and creating policy measures to protect personal health information, while expanding the state's ability to share EHRs between care providers, as well as with consumers and other community resources.

[Podcast: SCOTUS and ACA, what we know, what we don't, and why each matters.]

Officials liken the committee's efforts to make health information both accessible and secure to the way an individual's financial information is kept safe while allowing him or her better access to funds via ATMs and online banking. Following a public solicitation for members, the new SHIN-NY Policy Committee was formed by the NYeC Board of Directors on March 20, 2012 and is composed of individuals from across the state with expertise in policy: public officials, healthcare providers, attorneys, public advocates, RHIOs, hospital leadership and other policy specialists.

"It's essential for the success of this electronic health information enterprise that it be transparent and that all stakeholders have a meaningful voice in its governance," said Art Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers, member of the NYeC board of Directors, and co-chair of the SHIN-NY Policy Committee. "This committee's diverse membership reflects that principle."

Protecting the privacy and security of healthcare information is an essential task of NYeC, say officials. Toward that end, NYeC continually works with stakeholders from across the state and from a wide variety of interest groups to develop common policies, procedures and technical approaches through an open and transparent process.

NYeC's privacy and security policy work during 2010 and 2011 focused mainly on reviewing the state's existing policy guidance on health IT, which directed the regional work of regional health information exchange organizations (RHIOs).

[Commentary: What is the benefit of an HIE? Hint: Not necessarily economic, care quality.]

Now that regional data is being tied together to provide for statewide exchange of healthcare data, the new committee will review and modify existing policy and potentially explore the creation of new policy as needed to meet the needs of interoperability while protecting patient information. New policy and policy amendments will be in alignment with federal requirements.

"The success of this model rests in part on our ability to adapt to changes in the environment that shape public health and health care operations," said Rachel Block, deputy commissioner, Office of Health Information Technology Transformation at the NYS Department of Health and co-chair of the SHIN-NY Policy Committee with Levin. "I am grateful for the significant contributions that our stakeholders have made to ensure the continued success of this approach to governance."

The full list of committee members is available on NYeC's Web site