ONC wants feedback to shape healthcare interoperability goals for next decade

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Through its Health Interoperability Outcomes 2030 project, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) plans to publish a prioritized set of "aspirational and achievable" interoperability goals that align with the 2020-25 version of ONC's federal health IT strategic plan. (GettyImages/ismagilov)

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology this week launched a new initiative to plot out interoperability goals to drive the industry forward this decade.

Through its Health Interoperability Outcomes 2030 project, ONC plans to publish a prioritized set of "aspirational and achievable" interoperability goals that align with the 2020 to 2025 version of ONC's federal health IT strategic plan.

"We're at the start of a new decade, we're at the start of a new administration, and we have a pretty good view of the pieces that are falling into place over the next couple of years," said Steve Posnack, ONC deputy national coordinator, during the Health IT Advisory Committee meeting Thursday.

ONC is asking for public feedback to help inform its work. 

"Put simply, we’re looking for you to complete the following 'fill in the blank' with your best formulation of a health interoperability outcome – think of it like an interoperability Mad Lib," Posnack wrote in a blog post about the new initiative.

As an example of interoperability outcomes, Posnack in his blog post suggested, "because of interoperability, faxes are no longer used in clinical care before/by 2030," or "because of interoperability, before/by 2030 everyone that is part of a care team will have accurate, up-to-date clinical information prior to providing care."

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He noted that a well-framed interoperability outcome will be stated concretely with a reasonably intuitive way to measure progress and/or whether the outcome has been reached by 2030.

ONC will accept submissions for goals through July 30. The agency plans to publish the 2030 goals this fall.

In the blog post, Posnack noted that ONC's Interoperability Roadmap, the 2015-2020 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, and the 21st Century Cures Act, which pushed forward many interoperability regulations, have been the driving force behind ONC’s work over the last five years but there is now an opportunity to look ahead to the next nine years.

The new initiative will help ONC coordinate and focus collective actions toward interoperability outcomes, Posnack wrote.

"When we know with certainty what we want to accomplish, what outcomes we seek to achieve, it frees us up to be a bit more creative about how we get there," he said.

The new initiative follows ONC's recent decision to sunset a 10-year interoperability road map launched in 2015. The road map looked 10 years into the future and projected health care interoperability milestones for the nation to achieve by 2024.

In a blog post published last week, Posnack said the industry has made "solid progress" on many of the early milestones identified by the road map, noting that the road map itself no longer drives ONC's work.