News Feature | August 13, 2014

The ONC's Plan To Achieve Interoperable Health IT: Input Welcome

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Interoperable Health IT

While data lakes have been heralded as the end to many of the complications around interoperability difficulties, the reality remains that, interoperability will, and should be a priority for healthcare entities and the businesses that support them for the foreseeable future.

The Future According To ONC

From the perspective of the Office Of The National Coordinator (ONC), “the near future” constitutes at least the next ten years.

The agency released a paper in June, titled “A 10-Year Vision To Achieve An Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure.” The paper outlines the agency’s plan to build an interoperable health IT infrastructure as part of an effort to reduce costs and improve population health and patient engagement. The ONC will push forward toward interoperability under the following guiding principles:

  • Build upon the existing health IT infrastructure
  • One size does not fit all
  • Empower individuals
  • Leverage the market
  • Simplify
  • Maintain modularity
  • Consider the current environment and support multiple levels of advancement
  • Focus on value
  • Protect privacy and security in all aspects of interoperability

The Solution

In an effort to achieve their 10-year goal, and in alignment with their guiding principles, ONC has launched the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Community.

The community will allow members to contribute to ONC’s development of a shared, nation-wide interoperability road-map. It is designed to solicit comments, input, and answers to questions in an interactive form. All interested parties are being encouraged to submit their thoughts and comments for the first draft by Friday, September 12, 2014.

Agency Plans And Reactions

Through the community, the agency plans on implementing the following building blocks:

  • Core Technical Standards And Functions
  • Certification To Support Adoption And Optimization Of Health IT Products And Services
  • Privacy And Security Protections For Health information
  • Supportive Business, Clinical, Cultural, And regulatory Environments
  • Rules Of Engagement And Governance Of Health Information Exchange

The ONC’s Health IT Policy committee has already voice concerns, wondering if the proposal what too expansive, and whether interoperability was correctly defined.

Former CEO of eScription and committee member, Paul Egerman, said, “What (ONC is) trying to do here with interoperability is a very, very hard issue, especially if you define it broadly... ‘layering’ individuals’ access to data onto the interoperability goals could mak(e) this (project) harder than we need to make it.”

If you’re interested in joining, you can email to set-up a confluence account. General rules for engagement are available here.