ONC releases health information exchange toolkit for rural providers

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has announced the release of a new rural health information exchange (HIE) toolkit.

ONC's National Rural Health Resource Center has made available a set of "practical" HIE resources that ONC officials say they hope will be distributed widely to rural health stakeholders, including State Offices of Rural Health and Flex Programs, rural hospitals and clinics, critical access hospitals (CAHs), rural health networks, and other invested parties.
 
[See also: Mostashari: 3 interoperability questions.] 
 
The toolkit includes:
 
Forming or Joining a Health Information Exchange–First Considerations. This guide covers the first steps in forming or joining an HIE. The document also includes a readiness self-assessment tool designed around governance, sustainability, technology, legal and policy, provider adoption, evaluation and consumer engagement domains.
 
Health Information Exchange Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator. This spreadsheet calculates potential savings and costs of implementing an electronic health record (EHR) and a health information exchange (HIE). Sources are listed along with each calculation.
 
Health Information Exchange DIRECT Guide. This guide to DIRECT connectivity standards is designed to assist health care providers in understanding and implementing health information exchange using DIRECT protocols. The guide includes descriptions of technologies used, a glossary of terms and recommendations on implementing DIRECT.
 
Health Information Exchange Policy Matrix, which includes "policy models" adapted from The Connecting for Health Common Framework. Specifically, the policy suggestions are from section P2: Model Privacy Policies and Procedures for Health Information Exchange.  This framework provides several useful tools for health information exchange (HIE); P2 contains much of the necessary policy and procedure language needed for an HIE.
 
Privacy and Security Overview and Resource List. The privacy and security requirements for organizations participating in an HIE are covered in this guide.  A list of HIPAA-related resources is also included for staying current on regulatory changes.
 
The HIE Toolkit was developed through the Rural Health Information Technology Network Development (RHITND) Program, which is funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (HRSA, DHHS) through a contract to the National Rural Health Resource Center.