Metadata standards inch closer to MU Stage 2 inclusion

Patient privacy and transparency, and how each relates to information exchange, are on the minds of officials at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, who last Friday asked for public comments on metadata standards that could find their way into Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. ONC's advanced notice of preliminary rulemaking (ANPRM) specifically points to patient identity and provenance--as well as privacy--as areas of interest, and identifies its immediate scope as "association of metadata with summary care records." 

ONC refers to metadata as "data that provides more information or detail about a piece of data." This past April, the HIT Policy Committee, as reported by Government Health ITsuggested to ONC that it focus on creating standards for such data that could be attached to summary information for patients looking to download health information from a patient portal. The standards also would apply if a patient's information were to be transferred to a personal health record. 

"[T]he HIT Policy Committee noted that if these metadata are available, they could potentially increase the level of trust that receiving providers would place in clinical information that they receive through patient-mediated exchange," the notice states. Patients, it continues, would "more easily [be able to] sort and re-share their own health information." 

Ultimately, the metadata talk started in December with the release of a report by the President's Council on Advisors on Science and Technology. The report, according to iHealthBeat, called for a "universal exchange language" for health information exchange that would help increase privacy and security. 

ONC asks 20 questions in the notice related to metadata. Comments are due no later than Sept. 23. 

To learn more:
- here's the ONC notice (.pdf)
- read this FierceGovernmentIT piece
- also check out this iHealthBeat summary
- read this article in CMIO