AHA to ONC: Provide info on readiness of standards for real-world use

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The American Hospital Association wants the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to provide more information to healthcare industry stakeholders in its 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) about how it differentiates between the maturity levels of disparate health IT standards.

In a letter sent Tuesday to National Coordinator Vindell Washington, AHA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Analysis and Development Ashley Thompson says that the draft ISA, made public in August, fails to include links to any maturity assessments for standards. AHA also calls on ONC to publicly release feedback received about adoption experiences of standards and implementation specifications.

Additionally, AHA wants ONC to provide information on “the readiness of standards for provider use” in the real world, as opposed to just information on the adoption of standards. “[E]xperience to date indicates that a standard may have a high adoption rate as a result of a health information technology certification requirement, although it does not meet provider needs,” Thompson says.

She cites Direct as an example, saying that while hospitals must ensure that affiliated physicians and post-acute care partners can receive Summary of Care documents via Direct, “the standard has proven hard to use and does not always support existing clinical workflows.”

AHA also says ONC should support private-sector initiatives aimed at educating stakeholders about identified standards. “[D]evelopment of educational materials, funding for technical assistance, national provider calls and ongoing support will be crucial to the success of adoption of standards and implementation specifications that are updated regularly and federally required,” Thompson says.

Last month, in a meeting with members of the press, Washington said that he was particularly interested in having “relatively specific use cases” regarding standards, saying that until standards achieved wide use, they would remain a “whiteboard exercise.” He said a public-private approach to development of standards is the best route to take.