After nearly four hours of discussion Wednesday, the board responsible for regulating digital health information exchange in Kansas postponed its vote on a proposal to dissolve and turn its regulatory authority over to a state agency.
Instead, members of the Kansas Health Information Exchange board decided to form a committee to develop a list of the dissolution proposal's pros and cons and return with a recommendation for the board to consider at its Sept. 12 meeting.
In Kansas, privately owned networks handle the transfer of patients' digital health records over a health information exchange — which went live last week. The KHIE board was set up in 2010 as a public-private regulatory body to be independent of political influence.
The proposal to fold KHIE's functions into the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would eliminate more than half of KHIE's $400,000 projected annual costs and transfer the rest to taxpayers. Under the proposal, the 17-member KHIE board currently appointed by the governor would become an advisory committee appointed by the KDHE secretary.
"I feel like we haven't fully vetted and understand the long-term implications of making this transition," said board member Karen Braman.
"I absolutely agree that we have to look at efficiencies in operations wherever we can. That's going on in every sector, every business, every household in the country right now. And I do think we have to capitalize on the synergies that can be gained in collaboration with KDHE. I think that's been one of the cornerstones of this public-private partnership that we've all been involved in for so long," Braman said.
Board member Jackie John of the Great Plains Health Alliance asked what assurance there would be that KDHE would continue to ensure the privacy and security of patient health information.
"When the state goes through their budgeting process, how do we know that there's going to be enough value, that this process is going to continue with the resources necessary to provide the quality of services we're committed to?" John said.
"At least until a change in administration, there's a commitment to do this. But I'm not going to sit here and say that we can guarantee things for all eternity — that's just not realistic," said Aaron Dunkel, deputy secretary at KDHE. "At least with this administration, which we're hoping will be a little bit longer, we've got a commitment."