HIMSS ‘call to action’ seeks consistency in a diverse health IT ecosystem

HIMSS 2017
HIMSS outline six interoperability pain points in its "call to action."

One of the leading health IT trade groups has issued a directive to the Department of Health and Human Services and the broader health IT community to achieve widespread interoperability in healthcare.

The “call to action” issued by HIMSS earlier this week outlines six areas where policymakers and in-the-trenches IT professionals can advance data sharing through uniform standards and consistent exchange frameworks. The six calls to action are:

  • Demand integration between the interoperability approaches and trusted exchange frameworks for the public good.
  • Educate the community to appropriately implement existing and emerging standards, data formats and use cases to ensure a comprehensive, integrated approach to care.
  • Ensure stakeholder participation from across the care continuum, including patients and caregivers.
  • Identify the “minimum necessary” business rules for trusted exchange to enhance care coordination.
  • Standardize and adopt identity management approaches.
  • Improve usability for data use to support direct care and research.

Arguing that “now is the time for bold action” HIMSS said HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) should build on existing interoperability efforts by ensuring appropriate data standards are implemented and used consistently. Creating “minimum necessary” rules for trusted exchange will “spur greater involvement across disparate exchange solutions."

HIMSS also urged the health IT community to focus on new tools and algorithms to match patient data, “which remains a critical challenge across the health community.”  

RELATED: ONC prepares for its biggest challenge yet: EHR interoperability and usability

“The current healthcare ecosystem consists of a variety of care settings, use cases and stakeholders,” HIMSS wrote. “There is no existing one-size-fits-all interoperability solution. With the diversity across the ecosystem and the variety of interoperability initiatives that exist, it is not feasible at this time to put forth one ‘interoperability framework’ that could accommodate each of these unique scenarios and user needs.”

HIMSS, and other groups, have expressed some concern that ONCs Proposed Interoperability Standards Measurement Framework could create undue burden on the industry. Meanwhile, ONC is gradually chipping away at developing a trusted exchange framework, with interoperability a key focal point for the agency moving forward.