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NwHIN Governance Rules Shelved – What Now?

Earlier this month, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced it was dropping plans to issue governance “rules of the road” for the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN). Today in iHealthBeat, CDT writes about the significance of this decision on efforts to eliminate potential obstacles to digital health information exchange among providers and patients.

In “Establishing Trust and Interoperability in the Post-NwHIN Governance Era,” CDT acknowledges the limitations and potential drawbacks of the voluntary governance structure initially put forth for NwHIN by ONC in May 2012. However, we are concerned about the elimination of a potential policy tool for building a trusted virtual exchange network for providers and patients just as exchange requirements are about to be escalated under Stage 2.

In the absence of governance rules for NwHIN, HHS must use all of its existing authorities – including conditions for receipt of funds authorized by Congress in HITECH and its oversight over the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules – to ensure seamless and trusted exchange for patients and providers to improve individual and population health.