The federal government should avoid the temptation to require wide use of very limited approaches to health information exchange as it sets 2011 criteria for meaningful use of electronic health records, according to recent testimony from GE Healthcare, Waukesha, Wis.

In written testimony to the HIT Policy Committee's nationwide health information network workgroup, Mark Segal, director of government and industry affairs at GE Healthcare's I.T. unit, endorsed anticipated minimum HIE requirements. "The focus for 2011, consistent with the expected meaningful use criteria, should be to ensure that providers have EHRs capable of supporting standards-based HIE and can engage in the relatively modest forms of HIE we anticipate will be required for 2011," Segal wrote. "This approach will set the stage for stronger and more valuable HIE from 2013 on."

The industry would be best served by having less data exchange requirements in 2011 "to ensure that by 2013 we are on the right trajectory for robust, standards-based HIE," Segal advised. "The alternative could lock us into a shallower, less valuable trajectory."

GE also supported the concept of the nationwide health information network as a network-of-networks and warned against refocusing NHIN to a primarily point-to-point approach to health information exchange. "Such a shift in direction will send the wrong signals to those considering investing in standards-based HIE, generate little real value, create needless risks and costs, and divert from the robust HIE infrastructure needed to support the goals of HITECH."

Text of GE's testimony is available at

--Joseph Goedert

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