HIE 'Rules Of Road': What's Next?

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee | GovInfoSecurity.com | September 17, 2012

Supporters of a recent decision by federal regulators to back away from issuing voluntary "rules of the road" for secure health information exchange say the move makes sense, given that HIEs are still in the early stages of development (see: ONC Backs Off HIE 'Rules of Road'). But some others argue that establishing HIE benchmarks, especially for privacy and security, is advisable now to help build public trust.

The debate revolves around the concept of a Nationwide Health Information Network, an idea that has been kicking around for several years. Not a literal network, NwHIN would amount to a set of standards and guidelines to facilitate the flow of healthcare information from coast to coast, such as from one health information exchange to another.

Federal regulators had planned to issue an NwHIN Governance Rule, setting voluntary guidelines for health information exchange. When he unveiled plans for the rule earlier this year, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., who heads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, said it would create an NwHIN "brand" that health information exchanges and others could voluntarily earn, much like the Energy Star program that signifies energy efficiency levels of many products.