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Governance to Create Trust and Interoperability in Health information Sharing

  • When sharing health information using technology to improve health and health care, trust and interoperability are paramount. Data holders and patients must be confident that information will be handled appropriately and respectfully (garnering trust) and that information will be conveyed in a way that others can use and understand (enabling interoperability). To develop sound policies and practices that can create such an environment, governance is needed.

    HITECH required the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to consider “governance” for the Nationwide Health Information Network. Following a period of consultation, ONC recently decided not to continue with its formal rule-making process that would propose to spell out “conditions of trusted exchange.” Instead, ONC is working to “identify and shine the light on good practices that support robust, secure, and interoperable exchange, and provide a framework of enduring principles to guide emerging governance models.”

    In the meantime, Markle released guidance on how to establish Governance of Health Information Sharing Efforts. The so-called “Policies in Practice” identifies many of those “good practices” for health information sharing efforts. It describes how health information sharing efforts can achieve trust and interoperability through sound governance principles and mechanisms, and provides real-world examples that illustrate how these principles can manifest in practice. The core components of governance addressed in the Policies in Practice include:

    1. Clear goals and objectives;
    2. Mechanisms and processes for the development, oversight, enforcement, and coordination of policies, standards, and services; and
    3.  A set of policies, standards, and services.

    For more on governance, refer to Governance of Health Information Sharing Efforts Policies in Practice. You can also watch Video: Governance of Health Information Sharing Policies in Practice, where Markle’s Chief of Research Stefaan Verhulst clarifies the objectives of governance and answers questions.