The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has provided funds to two organizations to continue their work to develop governance programs for health information exchanges.

ONC last year issued a request for information as it sought to develop a federal HIE governance regulatory program. The industry hit back at the regulators, believing they were overreaching, and asked that the agency work with existing governance initiatives. ONC stepped back and began to look for non-regulatory approaches to achieving HIE governance.

Now, ONC has awarded a one-year contract for $280,000 to DirectTrust.org Inc. and a one-year contract for $200,000 to the New York eHealth Collaborative. DirectTrust is a trade association for organizations offering or using the Direct Project protocols for secure messaging over the Internet. The NYeC leads a coalition of 19 states, 20 electronic health records vendors and 22 health information exchange vendors working to leverage existing standards and develop implementation guides to support interoperability between clinical systems and HIEs.

DirectTrust will focus on developing a national accreditation program for health information service providers, certificate authorities and registration authorities that offer Direct Protocol products and services. The organization has partnered with the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission, an industry sponsored entity that accredits transactions processing vendors for meeting best practices.

The NYeC coalition, called the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup has a certification program for vendors to enable providers to select applications that have components supporting plug-and-play interoperability. The coalition is working with the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, which recently announced an HIE certification program. The coalition will use the federal funds to work on real-world implementation of secure messaging and query exchange in multiple states.

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