ONC targets interoperability standards and data exchange
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released a new roadmap of actions to advance the country’s healthcare data-sharing and interoperability missions.
The roadmap, Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Version 1.0, is part of the ONC’s 10-year plan to achieve a national healthcare information infrastructure, using health information technology (IT) to deliver healthcare more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Using incremental agendas for the next three years, the next six years and the next 10 years, the roadmap’s key near-term priorities include the development of a trusted platform for collecting and exchanging electronic health information and the implementation of standards to gather and share the data.
Measuring exchange activity allows us to assess whether information is flowing in an interoperable manner.
Measures of exchange activity should provide insight to:
The ONC has previously identified long-term care as one of the populations whose inclusion is vital to the success of cross-continuum interoperability efforts. The new roadmap also puts long-term care among the care delivery groups to be given focus early on. In the near-term, measurements “will be focused on certain populations, such as office-based physicians, hospitals, individuals and long-term care and behavioral health care providers,” the report states. “This reflects available data sources as well as the three-year agenda, which focuses on enabling the sending, finding, receiving and using of essential health information by individuals and providers along the care continuum.”
Beginning to collect data now will help the ONC to improve the measurements and benchmarking down the road. “Initially, ONC will focus measurement on the domains related to interoperable electronic health information exchange capability, information flow and use and to a lesser extent, impacts,” the report states. “Over time, there will be a shift to defining success in terms of how use of information exchanged in interoperable health IT improves outcomes and supports a learning health system.”
The roadmap also takes a harder look at what interoperability means—deeper and more specific parameters by which providers—and their EHR vendors—will be measured. The plan proposes several ways to evaluate the level and extent of exchange, including how timely the data is delivered and what entities at a facility or health system are actively exchanging information. [See table]
The draft roadmap is under a public comment period until April 3.
Pamela Tabar was editor-in-chief of I Advance Senior Care from 2013-2018. She has worked as a writer and editor for healthcare business media since 1998, including as News Editor of Healthcare Informatics. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Kent State University and a master’s degree in English from the University of York, England.
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