ONC Considers Health Information Exchange Certification Program

July 13, 2012
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With the advent of new telemedicine technologies, the secure exchange of medical information electronically is of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT received input from various advisory committees early this month about how a voluntary nationwide health information exchange (HIE) certification could be best accomplished.

With the advent of new telemedicine technologies, the secure exchange of medical information electronically is of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT received input from various advisory committees early this month about how a voluntary nationwide health information exchange (HIE) certification could be best accomplished. Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the head of the ONC accepted responses to 66 questions about certification during the HIT Policy Committee (HITPC) meeting earlier this month. The questions, which addressed how the certification process would work, were part of a feasibility study requesting input from advisory committees. Several aspects of certification were discussed at the HIT Policy Committee meeting, including:

  • Who would accredit entities
  • How entities would be verified and audited
  • How state laws might affect the process
  • Interoperability concerns
  • Processes for revoking certification for entities that failed to adhere to requirements
  • The potential economic impact of certification for practitioners and patients

The HIE certification program, which would work similar to the Energy Star program for consumer appliances, would evaluate whether a healthcare entity has the capability to adhere to Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) privacy, security, interoperability and business practice requirements. If a healthcare facility is HIE certified, other organizations would be able to easily verify which facilities are capable of exchanging medical images and data securely.

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With its voluntary HIE certification program, the ONC hopes to better facilitate HIT and efficiently accommodate new telemedicine technologies. If the RFI process reveals that the program is feasible, the ONC may move forward with several pilot projects in the near future. Learn more about ONC initiatives at http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt/community/healthit_hhs_gov__onc_initiatives/1497.