One month left to guide the ONC Interoperability Standards Advisory

September 23, 2016

Corey Spears, Director of Healthcare Interoperability Standards

In its continuing effort to advance healthcare interoperability by promoting standards-based data interchange, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has released a new draft of its annual Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA). This draft is currently open for public comment through October 24, 2016. ONC plans to release the final 2017 ISA in December of this year.

The ISA is an inventory of interoperability standards and implementation guides meant to provide guidance to the industry about the applicability of the contained specifications for various use cases. It is also an indication of the standards that may be picked up for use in governmental programs and regulations in the future.

The public comment is an invitation from the ONC to industry stakeholders to provide feedback in order to improve the quality of this guidance. This is a good opportunity for the public to inform the ONC about the practical use of these standards so that they can be applied appropriately in support of governmental programs and regulations. In essence, it provides a mechanism for a more open dialog between the public and the government so that these decisions don’t get made in a bubble.

The scope of the ISA as stated within is:

1) To provide the industry with a single, public list of the standards and implementation specifications that can best be used to fulfill specific clinical health information interoperability needs.”

2) To reflect the results of ongoing dialogue, debate, and consensus among industry stakeholders when more than one standard or implementation specification could be used to fulfill specific clinical health information interoperability need.

3) To document known limitations, preconditions, and dependencies as well as known security patterns among referenced standards and implementation specifications when they are used to fulfill a specific clinical health IT interoperability need.

At Infor, we will be taking the opportunity through this public comment to let the ONC know about our own, as well as our customers’ experiences with these standards. You can submit your thoughts on this draft either directly to the ONC, or, as a customer, contact us directly with your comments on the ISA and the experiences you’ve had with the standards.

We believe in interoperability standards. They can go a long way in creating a foundation for enabling interoperability. However, we are also pragmatic and know that standards are interpreted and implemented in different ways. Standards only get you so far to realizing interoperability. Even with standard interfaces there are often additional customizations and considerations you’ll have to account for with every implementation. Healthcare is complex. Subsequently, healthcare interoperability is also complex, especially as we look at addressing new problems and crossing new frontiers. Remember, Infor is here to help you make the most of your systems’ interoperability capabilities regardless of which standards or proprietary languages they may “speak.”

For more information about the ISA, please feel free to contact us or see ONC’s Health IT Buzz blog.
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