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Archive for Health Information Exchange

An HHS proposed rule issued last month sets forth financial integrity and oversight standards with respect to privacy and security under health information exchanges issued under the Affordable Care Act. 

The proposed rule, published in the June 19 Federal Register, calls for HHS to monitor state exchanges for compliance with the privacy and security standards established for personally identifiable information in the Affordable Care Act. HHS also proposes all exchange entities report all privacy and security incidents and breaches to HHS within one hour of discovering the incident or breach. The proposed rule also calls for a non-exchange entity associated with a state exchange to report all privacy and security incidents and breaches to the state exchange with which they are associated.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will not move forward with rulemaking surrounding safeguards, technical and business practice requirements for health information exchanges, the agency’s chief said in a September 7 blog post.

Earlier this summer, the ONC had issued a request for information to gather public input on a potential regulatory approach that would propose to spell out “conditions of trusted exchange” (safeguards, technical, and business practice) through rule-making, and establish a voluntary accreditation and certification process for validating organizations as being legitimate participants in the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN), Dr. Farzad Mostashari said in the blog post.

“An overarching goal for ONC is that information follows the patient where and when it is needed, across organizational, vendor, and geographic boundaries,” he wrote. “We believe that the current state of information exchange and care coordination is far from this ideal, and that in addition to technical challenges with interoperability, the absence of common ‘rules of the road’ may be hindering the development of a trusted marketplace for information exchange services.”

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The number of community-based health information exchanges (HIEs) that transfer data electronically among physicians, hospitals, health plans, and patients increased by nearly 40% from 2008, according to the sixth annual survey and study released by the nonprofit group, eHealth Initiative (eHI).

Approximately, there are 193 HIEs across the country, and 153 participated in the survey. Among the different stakeholders in those HIEs, hospitals (21) and physician practices (19) anticipated returns on their investments during this year, according to the study.

In 2009 and 2010, HIEs are expected to see new opportunities with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through which the federal government is expected to spend at least $300 million in support of HIE activities. "While it is impossible to predict the impact of future funding, ARRA has helped energize the field in recent months," the study said.

Read the full story by HealthLeaders Media’s Janice Simmons.

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Patients in Rhode Island will soon have a choice regarding whether they will allow their protected health information to be shared through a statewide health information exchange (HIE). The exchange will also allow their providers access to laboratory data and medication history.

The HIE—termed currentcare—is a secure electronic network created with a $5 million federal grant the Rhode Island Department of Health received in September 2004 when Rhode Island was chosen as one of six states to receive funds from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Rhode Island subcontracted with the Rhode Island Quality Institute to provide governance for the initiative, the first phase of which is set to go live in the fall.

The exchange of electronic health information is at the forefront of health leaders' minds these days, particularly because the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earmarked $300 million specifically for these types of developments. HIEs—the mobilization of healthcare information electronically across organizations or within a region, community or state—is one way of sharing data in this way.

Read the full story by Lisa Eramo of HealthLeaders Media.

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