The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has backed away from a proposal to create a governance structure for the Nationwide Health Information Network, FierceHealthIT reports (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 9/7).
National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari announced the policy shift last week at a meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/7).
NwHIN is a national health IT infrastructure that aims to help health care providers exchange data. It started as a conceptual framework, then evolved into a set of data exchange standards and later was leveraged for pilot testing.
In May, ONC issued a request for information on the creation of a governance structure for NwHIN. According to an ONC presentation, the NwHIN governance mechanism would have included rules on technical, business practice, privacy and security requirements to establish a common trust framework for the exchange (iHealthBeat, 6/5).
The RFI received pushback from multiple stakeholders in more than 140 formal comments to ONC (Modern Healthcare, 9/7).
Details of the Governance Decision
In a recent "Health IT Buzz" blog post, Mostashari wrote that ONC decided not to pursue an NwHIN governance structure so as "not to hobble" health information exchange activities that already are in progress.
He wrote, "One concern we heard repeatedly was that the very act of beginning a regulatory process may actually slow the development of trusted exchange at a time when we cannot afford that" (Goedert, Health Data Management, 9/7).
According to Mostashari, ONC will continue offering guidance on best practices for health data exchange and its decision does not mean that ONC will never regulate NwHIN (Modern Healthcare, 9/7).