Governance & Risk Management , Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) , Privacy

Interview: ONC on Next Steps for Secure Data Exchange

Genevieve Morris Discusses 21st Century Cures Act Initiatives
Interview: ONC on Next Steps for Secure Data Exchange
Genevieve Morris, principal deputy national coordinator for health IT

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will soon ramp up its efforts to advance secure health information exchange as part of its mandate under the 21st Century Cure's Act, says Genevieve Morris, ONC's principal deputy national coordinator.

ONC, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services, is carrying out the data exchange and health IT interoperability provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, helping achieve the goal of accelerating the advancement of medical innovation.

The office will host a July 24 kick-off meeting to discuss existing national trust infrastructures and suggested best practices for securely sharing electronic health data to improve care, Morris notes in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

Attendees are expected to include representatives from trust exchange networks and health information exchange organizations, healthcare provider systems and electronic health record system vendors, she says.

"There tends to be a lot of misconceptions about the various networks and organizations operating and about what they allow ... and don't allow ... how they're exchanging data, how they're regulating the exchange of data with their various agreements," she says. "What we want is to have a level playing field so that everyone understands the same thing about each of the organizations."

Comments Sought

Following the meeting, ONC will accept for 30 days public comments about "what should and shouldn't be in the common agreement" for what is involved with trusted health information exchange as it pertains to the 21st Century Cures Act, she says.

"This is an opportunity for folks to tell us: 'Here's the area within policy and governance where we're having a problem exchanging data and we think this should be addressed.'"

In the interview, Morris also discusses:

  • The biggest areas of change since ONC released in 2015 its 10-year roadmap for interoperable, secure health information exchange;
  • Common hurdles related to healthcare organizations' willingness to securely share patients' health data and whether intentional, inappropriate information blocking in the healthcare sector is a serious problem;
  • The potential impact of the Trump administration's proposed fiscal 2018 ONC budget cuts.

Before joining ONC as principal deputy national coordinator for health IT, Morris worked with ONC during the Obama administration in a variety of areas, including policy, standards, technology and grant programs, through contractor Audacious Inc., where she was senior policy director. Morris was involved with development of ONC reports relatedto the State Health Information Exchange Program, consumer engagement in health information exchange, provider directories, query-based health information exchange and the development of the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. Earlier in her career, Morris worked at a payer organization and with a health information exchange organization in Pennsylvania.

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