Health Systems Can Now Validate Their Data Use Methods

By Eric Wicklund

Healthcare executives looking to validate their health system’s data use efforts can now apply for certification from The Joint Commission.

The organization has unveiled a voluntary Responsible Use of Health Data (RUHD) Certification program for US hospitals, including critical access hospitals, which aims to “provide guidance and recognize healthcare organizations navigating the appropriate sensitivities needed to safely transfer data to third-party organizations, also known as secondary use of data.”

The surge in virtual care, digital health, and AI programs, alongside a national effort to identify and address health inequity, puts the emphasis on how healthcare organizations capture secondary data. The Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has reported that nearly 85% of all US hospitals now have the ability to export patient data for reporting and analysis purposes, yet many face challenges to integrating and using de-identified data because there are no standards in place.

How a health system uses its data will become even more important as the nation moves toward interoperability, highlighted by the federal government’s efforts to establish TEFCA, including setting up penalties for health systems that block data access by patients.

The RHUD certification process follows principles set forth in the Health Evolution Forum’s Trust Framework for Accelerating Responsible Use of De-Identified Data in Algorithm and Product Development, and will focus on six factors:

  • The de-identification process;
  • Data controls;
  • Limitations on use;
  • Algorithm validation;
  • Patient transparency; and
  • Oversight structure.

“The principles established within the Trust Framework are more pertinent than ever for organizations engaging in cross-sector collaboration to propel a new generation of data-powered solutions as artificial intelligence forges a new frontier of innovation and discovery in healthcare,” Richard Schwartz, Health Evolution’s CEO, said in the Joint Commission press release. “The Health Evolution Forum developed the Trust Framework with the intention that its enduring principles will serve as the groundwork for industry-leading organizations and coalitions to build upon this effort and chart the path forward in an ever-evolving technology, regulatory and business environment.”