The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has confirmed that it will provide voluntary guidelines, not a formal rule, to facilitate the governance of health information exchanges.
In a post to the Health IT Buzz blog late last month, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari confirmed that the agency will engage in other activities rather than issuing regulations to help support existing governing initiatives for HIEs. Mostashari had announced in September that ONC was backing off of using a formal rule after reviewing comments on a Request for Information on the subject.
Other activities ONC is supporting include:
- A new funding opportunity to allow ONC to work collaboratively with HIEs
- An open listening session on HIE governance this month, as well as a public hearing Jan 29 on the current status of HIEs
- The National e-health Collaborative's convening of stakeholders involved in the governance of HIEs
- Creation of a monitoring program.
"The overarching goal for ONC remains that the information follow the patient where and when it is needed, across organizational, vendor, and geographic boundaries," Mostashari said. "We hope that you agree that we have initiated a robust series of activities to accomplish this goal."
Initial reaction to the use of guidelines rather than rules is mixed, according to an article in HealthInfoSecurity. Those who support the move indicate that issuing guidance is more practical and that regulations at this time would be premature.