Consistent security crucial to smooth operation of New York HIE

In 2010, New York state announced plans to create the largest health information exchange in the country; now, four years later, the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY) is just about ready for full implementation.

"New York needs a little bit more time ... in order to have enough data in the network to be fully useful to all of the providers in the community," David Whitlinger, executive director of the New York eHealth Collaborative, which oversees SHIN-NY, said in a recent interview with HealthcareInfoSecurity. "We're almost there."

SHIN-NY plans to link 10 regional health information exchanges (HIE) into a statewide network, according to Whitlinger. In March, the New York State legislature voted to support the program--budgeting $55 million in state funding for SHIN-NY.

Whitlinger also told HealthcareInfoSecurity how SHIN-NY would be used to share information and data while also keeping patients' health information secure. Consistent security and privacy polices, he said, are paramount to the network's success.

"Now that we're stitching the individual communities together into a statewide network, having consistency in those policies has been very germane to making it all work," he said.

The importance of having a secure, shared HIE came to light when Hurricane Sandy barreled through New York in 2013. Many providers were spared losing their electronic health records when the storm knocked out power across the region because the information was stored in the HIE.

Whitlinger said there would be two technologies for accessing patient information across providers--a Google-like search engine and a secure email program. Patients also will be able to access their information through a Web portal.

Interoperability and sustainability are among the biggest hurdles that HIEs face, according to the eHealth Initiative's 2013 Health Data Exchange Survey. The report calls interoperability "a great hurdle with little relief in sight."

To learn more:
- read the Information Security Media Group interview