ONC task force completes discussions on interoperability standards advisory

The Health IT Standards Committee Advisory Task Force has held the last of its meetings to discuss the public comments received about the Office of the National Coordinator's 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory.

At its Aug. 17 meeting, the task force noted that there are three classes of technical standards and implementation guides which "increase exponentially" in maturity and adoptability as they mature: emerging, pilot and national standards. 

Moreover, "[t]he healthcare architecture should look to standards that contain a core set of constrained building blocks which are constructed on top of core composables and orchestration patterns to promote Interoperability while keeping the spectrum of uses cases, functionalities and building blocks in balance," the task force noted in its presentation.

However, there's been little consistency in the public comments about the scope and design of the advisory, which is ONC's first deliverable in support of its national interoperability roadmap. The members of the task force addressed a number of issues, such as whether using the National Provider Identifier is feasible, what should be contained in the standard for allergies, the need for a discrete structured approach to sexual orientation and gender identity, and the standard for queries for documents for clinical health information. It also noted that some standards may not yet be "emerging," but should be on a "watch" list for the future.

The task force has met throughout the summer to discuss the advisory, which aims to provide a single, public list of the standards and implementation specifications for data sharing. The advisory is not binding, but it's meant to be a source of clarity, consistency and predictability regarding the best standards and specifications for interoperability.

According to ONC's website, the 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 been a front burner issue in recent months. Both design issues with EHRs and deliberate "information blocking" have stymied efforts to share data.

The task force will finalize its recommendations today, and make its recommendations to the Health IT Standards Committee on Aug. 26. ONC then will update the advisory and request further public comment.

To learn more:
- access the meeting materials (including the presentation)