ONC finalizes 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory

The ONC's web-based 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory will be updated throughout the year.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is pushing its Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) into the digital age with a finalized web-based version that will offer continuous updates throughout the year.

In its draft version, published in August, the ONC initiated the agency’s transition to an interactive website that included links to ongoing interoperability projects. The finalized standards released on Tuesday conclude the transition from a static document to an online platform that offers “efficient, close to real-time updates and comments as well as links to projects,” according to a release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and allows federal standards to keep pace with the evolving health IT marketplace. 

The new digital framework will allow stakeholders to “more fully engage with and shape the ISA on an ongoing basis” and include links to ONC’s Interoperability Proving Ground as a means of showcasing successful implementation case studies.

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Because of the shift to a web-based platform, the ONC is also tweaking its publication cycle. A static reference document will be published in December of each year, but the ISA website will be updated continuously. The ONC will continue to call for public comments annually, but the agency will also solicit continuous feedback on standards changes throughout the year.

As noted in the draft publication, the ONC has also discontinued the use of “best available” to allow for greater flexibility and finalized new descriptive language and revisions to the six informative characteristics unveiled in last year’s ISA update. The updated standards also include interoperability considerations for personal health devices, nursing, research, nutritional health, and social determinants—supplemental data that researchers have identified as critical to population health management.

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