Corporate Compliance

HHS releases report on health information exchange

Compliance Monitor, July 6, 2005

The Department of Health and Human Services has released a report summarizing more than 500 responses from individuals and private industry on interoperable health information exchange.

The report, the "Summary of Nationwide Health Information Network Request for Information Responses," is a compilation of responses to a request for information that sought input from the public on how to develop a nationwide health information exchange.

"We asked the healthcare and IT sectors to tell us what we need to know to plan a health information exchange system that will work-delivering healthcare records when and where they're needed," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. "These ideas provide invaluable 'first aspects' for a plan that will transform healthcare in America." Among the many opinions expressed, significant support emerged for the following concepts:

  • A nationwide health information network (NHIN) should be a decentralized architecture built using the Internet, linked by uniform communications and a software framework of open standards and policies.

  • An NHIN should reflect the interests of all stakeholders and be a joint public/private effort.

  • A governance entity composed of public and private stakeholders should oversee the determination of standards and policies.

  • An NHIN should be patient-centric with sufficient safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information.

  • Incentives will be needed to accelerate the deployment and adoption of a NHIN. Existing technologies, federal leadership, prototype regional exchange efforts, and certification of EHRS will be the critical enablers of a NHIN.

  • Key challenges to developing and adopting a NHIN were listed as: the need for additional and better refined standards; addressing privacy concerns; paying for the development and operation of, and access to NHIN; accurately matching patient's identity; and addressing discordant inter- and intra-state laws regarding health information exchange.
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