NIST looks to create secure platform to electronically exchange health info

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has taken another step to help the healthcare industry safeguard information contained in electronic health records, asking for volunteers to participate in a demonstration project to create a secure platform for the electronic exchange of patient health information.

The project, to be operated by NIST's National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and announced in the Federal Register Jan. 14, is inviting interested parties to provide products and technical expertise to support and demonstrate the secure platform. NIST is looking for components or capabilities, such as data transfer, electronic health information storage and retrieval, forms generation capabilities and entry and display devices.  Some of the specific requirements of participants include compatibility with various EHRs in use by smaller providers, strong encryption and user authentication.

"The expected outcome of the demonstration is to enable healthcare providers to exchange electronic health information. Participating organizations will gain from the knowledge that their products are interoperable with other participants' offerings," the notice says.

The project's goal is to come up with tools and methods to support secure data sharing among providers, particularly smaller ones that have fewer resources, according to a recent Government Health IT article.

Interested parties must submit a certification letter to NIST by Feb. 28.

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence is a public/private collaboration for accelerating the widespread adoption of integrated cybersecurity tools and technologies.

NIST previously has expressed concern about the usability and security of EHRs, launching an initiative to voluntarily test existing EHR systems and releasing a guide to help providers conduct risk assessments, a requirement of HIPAA's security rule.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- read the Government Health IT article