New York state considers accrediting RHIOs

New York state is studying the feasibility of evaluating and accrediting its regional health information organizations.

The project is linked to a five-year, $200 million effort to develop an interoperable health information infrastructure. That investment includes the implementation of electronic health records and the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY).

The state’s health information infrastructure consists of technical, clinical and organizational components. SHIN-NY serves as the bedrock for the technical infrastructure, while RHIOs play a governance role as the organizational element, said Lori Evans, deputy commissioner of the state’s Department of Health, which includes the Office of Health Information Technology Transformation.

State officials are exploring accreditation as a way to assure stakeholders that RHIOs can handle governance responsibilities.

“Governance and trust are just as important to achieving interoperability as the technology,” Evans said. “The organizational infrastructure is so important. RHIOs are a critical organizational component of making SHIN-NY successful.”

The initiative will rely on RHIOs’ ability to govern health information exchanges in areas such as privacy and security, according to the Office of Health IT Transformation. The state will also count on RHIOs to ensure that providers of health information comply with the state’s developing Common Health Information Exchange Protocol, which officials say are the linchpin of SHIN-NY.

Evans said a research paper on RHIO accreditation will be published in the next couple of weeks. It was commissioned by the New York eHealth Collaborative, a not-for-profit corporation that operates as a public/private partnership with the Department of Health’s support.

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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