For Interoperability Standards Advisory, ONC aims for Wikipedia style

In a Twitter chat, an ONC executive discussed plans to enhance 2017 interoperability technology specifications. Chat members also brought up meaningful use and blockchain.

An influential collection of interoperability specifications is saying goodbye to PDF format and hello to an interactive approach that echoes Wikipedia's content.

That update was among the highlights of a Twitter chat held by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to discuss the new draft of the 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA), which is the model by which ONC coordinates the identification, assessment and determination of recognized interoperability standards.

In broad terms, the Interoperabilty Standards Advisory creates a list of specifications to help achieve clinical health information interoperability. The2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory is a compilation of feedback that ONC received from public comments on the 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory and from current deliberations from the HIT Standards Committee. ONC will accept public comments until 5 p.m. ET on Monday, October 24, 2016.

Steven Posnack, the director of the office of standards and technology at ONC, hosted ONC's Twitter chat last week and informed participants about the patient's role in the deliberations.

Posnack also explained how ONC is looking to make the new version of the ISA different than past versions -- namely heading away from the stagnant, 80-page PDF format of the 2016 edition.

Participants in the Twitter chat bemoaned what they viewed as the failures of meaningful use, pointing out that despite the government spending billions of dollars on the program, interoperability was not achieved. However, one participant believed that spending so much money is the only way to get healthcare organizations to share medical records.

Participants also discussed possible solutions to creating interoperability.

One major topic of discussion was standards, their role in increasing interoperability and possible use cases in the industry. Some participants felt that SMART on FHIR, a standards-based application platform that also uses APIs to make interoperability possible, is a viable solution; others felt standards need to be implemented for a particular use case in order to be successful. Posnack explained that ONC is trying to represent broader uses of standards when it comes to interoperability.

One participant wondered whether blockchain would make it into future versions of the ISA and whether the technology would play a role in creating interoperability. Some health IT experts believe that one use case for blockchain is creating interoperability.

Other solutions that participants discussed include APIs and getting companies such as Apple involved.

The 2017 draft of the ISA can be found on ONC's website.

Next Steps

Tip: Achieving interoperability of health information systems

Video: Military says interoperability is 'non-negotiable'

Feature: Developers are using FHIR interoperability standard

Dig Deeper on HITECH Act and meaningful use requirements