Health IT groups praise interoperability roadmap

Last-minute comments are rolling in from healthcare IT advocates on the Office of the National Coordinator's Interoperability Roadmap; the deadline to submit is tomorrow.

The Consumer Partnership for eHealth and Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) both recently wrote to National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo with praise for the document, as well as recommendations for what can be changed, expanded and clarified.

The goal of the roadmap, which was unveiled in late January, is to provide steps to be taken in both the private and public sectors to create an interoperable health IT ecosystem over the next 10 years, according to ONC.

One of the main focuses on the roadmap, which spans more than 140 pages, is to enable "a majority of individuals and providers across the care continuum to send, receive, find and use a common set of electronic clinical information at the nationwide level by the end of 2017."

The Consumer Partnership for eHealth, in its recommendation letter, praised ONC for its focus on interoperability to support a learning health system, as well as the principle that digital health data should be available to all individuals.

Changes the organization suggests include:

  • Creation of a common clinical data set: The Consumer Partnership urges ONC to embrace the Health and Human Services Department's demographic data collection standards. It also asks that disability and functional limitations and sexual orientation identity be added to the data set
  • A business environment: ONC should require that any alternative payment models demonstrate how they are using interoperable IT to advance the exchange of information, the Consumer Partnership says
  • A call to action: The organization says the roadmap is missing "meaningful involvement of consumer/patient representatives"

EHNAC supports the roadmap's building block surrounding certification and testing of health IT products and services. However, it asks ONC to go further with certification and accreditation beyond just interoperability.

EHNAC also suggests:

  • ONC should work closely with other existing certification/accreditation programs
  • Work with those programs should start during the standards adoption process to have tools available as early on as possible
  • Allowing entities to pick which certification/accreditation they want to achieve

The Interoperability Roadmap is part of the agency's Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, which focuses on the collection, use and sharing of interoperable health information. However, providers have said that plan sets lofty goals that need to be more "refined."

To learn more:
- read the Consumer Partnership's letter
- here's the EHNAC's letter