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10/5/2012
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Feds Complete Transfer Of National Data Exchange Operations

Healtheway, a public-private not-for-profit firm, is now the business arm of the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) Exchange.

8 Health Information Exchanges Lead The Way
8 Health Information Exchanges Lead The Way
(click image for larger for slideshow)
The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC) has largely completed its transfer of operational responsibilities for the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) Exchange to Healtheway Inc., a new public-private, not-for-profit organization, said Doug Fridsma, ONC's chief science officer, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. Healtheway is now the business arm of the NwHIN Exchange, which has been renamed the eHealth Exchange (EHE).

Fridsma noted that ONC always planned to transfer the NwHIN exchange, which it formed in 2007 and became operational in 2009, to the private sector. "We've never envisioned that ONC in perpetuity would manage and operationalize a single nationwide HIE. We always knew that at some point the work we did early on as an incubator would eventually go out into the private sector."

Responding to criticism of ONC's recent request for information on governance of the NwHIN Exchange, Fridsma said, "It's important that we don't get in the way of people who are trying to succeed at exchanging information. The feedback we got from the RFI was that many people thought it was too early for us to insert ourselves into this developing ecosystem. We want to encourage the operations and software development that the private sector can do better than government."

The eHealth Exchange will continue to be governed by the Exchange Coordinating Committee (ECC), a body that ONC founded but on which it is not a voting member. With members representing all exchange participants, including federal agencies, the ECC will have the final say on how the eHealth Exchange is run, Fridsma said.

[ Read Health Information Exchanges Struggle To Prove ROI. ]

Healtheway itself will be governed by a board of directors elected by its membership, which will encompass not only eHealth Exchange participants, but also other stakeholders, Mariann Yeager, interim executive director of Healtheway and a board member, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "Healtheway membership is open to anyone in the industry," including health IT companies, she said. Federal agencies will have input by providing nonvoting "liaisons" to the Healtheway board, she added.

Healtheway will not receive government grants. But EHE production participants--including federal agencies--pay annual fees that will help support Healtheway, and the corporation's members will pay yearly membership fees, said Michael Matthews, CEO of MedVirginia and a board member and president of Healtheway.

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