At a minimum, there are three types of interoperability required to achieve an interoperable health IT ecosystem, according to Doug Fridsma, M.D., ONC’s outgoing chief science officer.

Speaking this week at AHIMA’s 2014 conference in San Diego, Fridsma made the case that health IT requires all three types of interoperability--semantic, syntactic, and information exchange. “If you exchange the information and the codes don’t match or it’s a proprietary set of codes, you’ve got the information but you have no idea what those codes mean,” he argued. “Semantic interoperability is about the vocabularies and syntactic interoperability is about the structure.”

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