'Tiger Team' Tackling More IssuesGroup Outlines Its Next Privacy, Security Tasks
The team will tackle such issues as:
- Ensuring "openness and transparency" about the policies, procedures and technologies involved in information exchange;
- Addressing data quality and integrity, making sure that those involved in information exchange take reasonable steps to ensure that health data is complete, accurate and up-to-date;
- Implementing safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of patient information and to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate use or disclosure. This includes the issue of authenticating the sources of information;
- Providing individuals with a simple and timely way to access and obtain their information in a readable format.
Earlier EffortsThis summer, the tiger team drafted recommendations dealing with obtaining patient consent for the exchange of their healthcare information. The team also outlined "fair information practices" for those involved in exchanging information, says Deven McGraw, co-chair. She's director of the health privacy project at the Center for Democracy & Technology.
David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology in the Department of Health and Human Services, formed the tiger team. It's focusing primarily on issues related to information exchange capabilities required for achieving stage one "meaningful use" of electronic health records for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive program. That program was created by the HITECH Act.
At a meeting Sept. 24, the tiger team used a rough draft of a policy and technology framework for health information exchange to guide its work.
"We want to build out a comprehensive set of policies and technology requirements that really fills the gaps that might exist in current law," McGraw said.
A key goal, McGraw and other team members stressed, is ensuring that patients are not surprised or harmed by the collection, use or disclosure of their health information.
Team members on Sept. 24 made an attempt at beginning to craft recommendations on "openness and transparency." For example, they agreed that patients need to be better informed when a health information exchange or similar intermediary is enabling multiple organizations to access their data.
The team will continue its discussion Oct. 6; it plans to meet twice in October, November and December. The group eventually will make recommendations to the Health IT Policy Committee. Then, Blumenthal's office will determine whether to use the recommendations in proposed federal policies, which HHS ultimately would have to approve.
Governance IssuesMeanwhile, another workgroup will develop recommendations for a formal governance system to monitor whether various health information exchanges and other intermediaries, which eventually will exchange patient information nationally, are abiding by the same rules.
The new NHIN Governance Workgroup, which met for the first time Sept. 3, will host a hearing Sept. 28 to consider testimony about governance issues, including how the exchange of information is governed in other business sectors.
Early next year, federal regulators plan to issue a proposal for governance of organizations that use the National Health Information Network standards.