Newly appointed ONC Health IT Policy Committee member Aaron Miri talks cybersecurity, interoperability, and positive patient identification

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently appointed Aaron Miri, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Vice President of Government Relations of Imprivata, as a new member and the Privacy and Security Representative of its Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC). Mr. Miri has held leadership roles in Health IT for over a decade as a Certified Healthcare Chief Information Officer (CHCIO), a distinguished Fellow with the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and a Project Management Professional (PMP) with the Project Management Institute (PMI). Aaron discusses the history of the HITPC and his outlook for the committee moving forward in the coming year.

1)      What is the role of this committee and why was it created?

The Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC) was created back in 2009 to bring together various members of the healthcare IT community from payers and providers to vendors and clinicians to work through the different issues that are facing the healthcare IT industry today. The committee works to make recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health IT on a policy framework for the adoption of a nationwide health information infrastructure.

2)      Given the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act and the increasing data breaches we are seeing in the industry, would you say security has now become the number one mandate for this committee?

The HITPC is trying to operate on multiple mandates. Interoperability plays a major part as many organizations are trying to have information flow from one provider to another. Security, of course, continues to be paramount in every healthcare discussion especially for hospitals and organizations that have many patients to account for. If patients don’t feel that their personal health information is secure, then it jeopardizes the years of efforts within our industry to drive adoption of health IT.

3)      What is the committee trying to accomplish today? What would you like to see happen in the coming year?

What I have noticed about every evolution of the policy committee is that there are new top leaders that build on the previous sessions before them. I am looking forward to working together with the new leaders and expect that we will be able to make additional strides in driving interoperability and increasing security within the healthcare industry.

4)      On the topics of interoperability and hospitals achieving consistent, positive patient identification, why does it seem that these two topics create such challenges for hospitals today?

For me it comes down to three things. One is the legacy systems or numerous systems that are not tethered together. Two is the barrier that exists between different providers and hospitals due to potential trust issues. Last but not least are what I call the soft issues – legal, competitive, and environmental challenges that might not be able to be prevented such as transaction complications or legal ramifications.

5)      When you speak to Imprivata customers around the world, what are the major issues that hospital CIOs are concerned with, and do you feel like the committee is in a position to address these?

Having recently started at Imprivata and having been a previous customer and a long time hospital IT executive, I am in a unique position to answer some of these problems. Some of the major issues our customers are facing are regulatory mandates, an evolving security environment, and interoperability issues where systems have limited availability to exchange data. Hospital CIOs need a partner and the HITPC can assist by addressing these challenges with policy that aligns with the current issues faced by our communities.