ONC interoperability road map draft outlines governance, certification standards goals

An updated draft version of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's 10-year road map to interoperability, published online late Monday, outlines goals for governance and certification standards and calls for "unprecedented collaboration" in ensuring that technology can seamlessly support the health of patients on a day-to-day basis.

Interoperability requirements, the report points out, must be consistent at all levels--federal, state and private. What's more, economic incentives should be aligned, as well, according to the report. By 2017, "explicit rules that address organizational, trust, business and technical issues" must be established, the report notes.

"With broad input from stakeholders across the health IT ecosystem" ONC will establish a voluntary nationwide government framework, according to the draft road map. The framework will define the responsibilities of different stakeholders, as well as technical standards, a governance structure and privacy and security rules.

ONC also will create and launch a program that keeps track of who complies with that voluntary framework, the road map says.

The draft road map stems from, and is a more robust version of, a vision paper published in June by ONC. The ultimate goal of ONC in developing the road map is to build a continuous learning health system.

ONC plans to publish a road map for public comment in January 2015 that includes feedback from its Health IT Policy and Standards Committees, which are gathering for a joint meeting in the District of Columbia on Wednesday to discuss the current iteration of the document. By March of next year, ONC anticipates that version 1.0 of the road map will be complete.

The road map will be a "living document," ONC officials have continuously stressed, that will be updated regularly to reflect change over time.

ONC's approach previously has drawn some criticism. In early August, for instance, stakeholders commented that the initial vision paper might not be realistic and that the agency might be trying to do too much.

"If we just get the systems themselves to talk to each other, that would be a huge accomplishment," Health IT Policy Committee member Paul Egerman, former CEO of eScription, said at the meeting. "Perhaps we're making this harder than we need to make it, and it's already pretty hard."

In ONC's most recent annual report to Congress on the HITECH Act, the agency notes that while interoperability has increased, widespread interoperability remains a challenge. The report identifies several barriers to interoperability, including unchanged provider practice patterns, the lack of standardization among EHRs and the lower priority placed on EHRs by providers who are ineligible for the Meaningful Use program. 

To learn more:
- here's the draft road map (.ppt)

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