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ONC releases 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory updates

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released its 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory, which expands its focus on health research interoperability, after compiling roughly six months of public feedback on the document.

The purpose of the ISA is to provide a single, public list of standards and implementation specifications that best address the needs of clinical health information interoperability. The ISA’s current focus is on information interoperability between entities, instead of users within an organization. It is also intended to inform standards and specifications, not just for electronic health records (EHR), but all forms of health IT that support interoperability needs.

Some of the updates to the ISA include:

  • Discontinuing the “best available” label, as the term does not provide a specific pathway for industry input. The Health IT Standards Committee discontinued the label based on feedback that stakeholders may have different perceptions about what constitutes a “best available” interoperability standard or specification.
  • Releasing a static “Reference Edition” every December that can be cited in contracts, agreements or as needed. The web-based version will be updated frequently to reflect real-time updates to interoperability standards and specifications.
  • Further moving the ISA toward a web-based, interactive resource that provides transparency and encourages greater stakeholder engagement

The 2017 update also provides patient-specific assessments and recommendations based on patient data for clinical decision support, and adds remote patient monitoring for chronic condition management, as well as patient education and engagement.

In a statement released earlier this week, ONC national coordinator Vindell Washington, M.D., said, “The ISA is a key step toward achieving the goals we have outlined with our public and private sector partners in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, as well as the Interoperability Pledge announced earlier this year.”

The Interoperability Pledge consists of three commitments:

  • Empowering patients through electronic access to health records
  • Eliminating roadblocks that stand in the way of health information exchange
  • Implementing national interoperability standards for EHRs

To date, companies that provide 90% of EHRs used by hospitals have taken the interoperability pledge.

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