Wednesday 8 July 2020
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ONC Publishes the 2016 Interoperability Standards

ONC Publishes the 2016 Interoperability Standards

2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory

ONC accepted public comments on a draft of the 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory for 45 days that ended on Friday, November 6, 2015.  The public comments were used to update the draft in order to publish the final 2016 Advisory.

The final 2016 Advisory also represents feedback ONC received from public comment on the 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory as well as many of the recommendations from the HIT Standards Committee.

Per the process first established with the publication of the 2015 Advisory, this document represents the final 2016 Advisory and will now serve as the basis on which future public comments and HIT Standards Committee recommendations are sought. The comment period for the 2016 Advisory will begin in early 2016. The comments we receive will inform the 2017 Advisory. Your continued feedback and engagement is critical to improve and refine the Advisory.

While the standards and implementation specifications included in the advisory may also be adopted in regulation, required as part of a testing and certification program, or included as procurement conditions, the advisory is non-binding and serves only to provide clarity, consistency, and predictability for the public regarding ONC’s assessment of the best available standards and implementation specifications for a given interoperability need.

It is also plausible, intended, and expected for advisories to be “ahead” of where a regulatory requirement may be, in which case a standard or implementation specification’s reference in an advisory may serve as the basis for industry or government action.

Highlights of the Advisory:

The 80-page ISA is catalogs existing and emerging standards and specifications for specific interoperability needs – from lab tests to medications to imaging and beyond. The advisory is meant to be one-stop shopping for “federally recognized, national interoperability standards and guidance,” wrote Steven Posnack, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Technology, and Chris Muir, director of the office’s HIT Infrastructure and Innovation Division in a blog post on Tuesday.

They will highlight the options as “Best Available” to help prompt dialog within the industry to ensure that they continue to move forward with progress. The advisory committee introduced in the 2015 several characteristics and additional factors by which the standards and implementation specifications were determined to be the “Best Available”.  They looked as whether a standard was in widespread use or required by regulation.

They looked at the public comments and feedback during the open comment forums.  These comments showed trends as to that for each standard and implementation specification, which ones would benefit stakeholders and clearly conveyed a standard’s maturity and adoptability.

They looked hard at the Standards Process Maturity, Implementation Maturity, Adoption Level, Federal Requirement, Cost and Test Tool Availability.

According to a recent article in HealthITAnalytics: Will the IoT Bring a Patient Engagement, Interoperability Revolution? “EHRs are a source of stress that siphon nearly an hour of administrative time away from physicians each and every day, leading to fed-up providers contemplating early retirements as federal mandates like the EHR Incentive Programs foist complicated reporting burdens and all-or-nothing financial penalties onto organizations forced to pay for new technologies out of their own empty pockets.  The “joy of medicine” is dead, many physicians say, and the EHR killed it.

Let’s hope that the ONC and their committees will provide the necessary support and guidance to make interoperability not such a frustrating process.

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