ONC releases interoperability measurement framework

A new framework released by ONC aims to measure interoperability across the country.

Building on its interoperability roadmap, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has released a framework for measuring nationwide progress.

The proposed framework focuses on two key issues: implementation of interoperability standards within health IT products, and how end users such as health systems and providers customize those standards to meet interoperability needs.

The framework includes specific measurement criteria that would be reported annually, including what standards are in existing and developing products and the volume of transactions under each standard.

The ONC noted that health IT developers are well-positioned to track standards implementation within products, but often lack up-to-date information about what version clients are using. Furthermore, adherence to health IT interoperability standards vary widely among developers, as does the architecture that allows developers to track user-related statistics.

This type of prescribed measurement “will provide insights into the variability in how standards are implemented in the field including where this variability is occurring and potentially impeding interoperability,” the ONC wrote.

The agency is requesting comments from various health stakeholders including providers, developers and medical associations.

RELATED: Datapalooza17Tom Price emphasizes a hands-off approach to helath IT oversight

The ONC released its interoperability roadmap in 2015 and has issued annual standards under its Interoperability Standards Advisory. Interoperability has been a primary focal point for ONC administrators, as well as Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Last week at Datapalooza, Price said the administration “is committed to doing all we can to align incentives and promote true interoperability.” During a press briefing last week, HIMSS leaders said 21st Century Cures offers a clear definition of interoperability, but it’s up to ONC and HHS to implement those regulatory provisions.