HIT Standards task force: Suggestions for interoperability all over the board

There's been considerable interest in expanding the scope of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory, but very little consistency regarding how, according to the Health IT Standards Committee Advisory Task Force.

In its June 29 meeting, the Task Force reported that 59 comments had been received on the advisory, which is ONC's first deliverable in support of its national interoperability roadmap. The advisory is aimed at providing a single, public list of the standards and implementation specifications for data sharing. The advisory is not binding, but it's meant to provide clarity, consistency and predictability regarding the best standards and specifications for interoperability.

However, stakeholders appear divided regarding the Advisory. Thirty-two commenters were supportive, eight were not, and 19 were neutral about it. The only consistency was a desire by commenters for strong privacy and security standards. There were no consistent suggestions for characteristics of the standards and specifications. Seventeen comments provided suggestions on what standards and specifications should be included, but they were not consistent with each other. Twenty-three commenters suggested new purposes in the advisory, but again none of them were consistent.

According to ONC's website, the 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory "represents the model by which ONC will coordinate the identification, assessment, and determination of the best available interoperability standards and implementation specifications for industry use toward specific healthcare purposes."

The lack of EHR interoperability has become an issue of major concern in recent months. ONC created its interoperability roadmap earlier this year, to be implemented over the course of the next 10 years. Researchers recently suggested that EHRs should have five particular functionalities, or "use cases" to achieve interoperability: EXtract, TRansmit, Exchange, Move and Embed data ("EXTREME").

The Task Force will make its recommendations to ONC later this summer. ONC then will update the advisory and request further public comment.

To learn more:
- here are the meeting materials
- view the advisory website