ONC, HL7, industry groups seek participants for SDOH data exchange pilot in real-world setting

The national Gravity Project Pilots Affinity Group intends to pilot and test a SDOH clinical care FHIR Implementation Guide to expand use of social factors in healthcare.

The effort aims to improve the use of social determinants of care through improved exchange and interoperability.

A new workgroup is looking to create and test an implementation guide that would advance the development and adoption of standards for social determinants of health.

The group’s membership includes Health Level 7, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and other partners. Called the Gravity Project Pilots Affinity Group, the initiative seeks to combine efforts to demonstrate how best to enable the nation’s technical infrastructure to enable interoperability of SDOH data.

ONC detailed its role in the Gravity Project Pilot group in a blog post released on October 27.

Partners in the workgroup also include IHE, AARP and “a wide range of partners from healthcare, government (federal and states), community-based organizations, developers, providers and industry stakeholders,” the blog notes. It’s seeking to create a SDOH Clinical Care FHIR Implementation Guide.

“Additionally, ONC is supporting the publication of the latest version of the SDOH CC IG currently in ballot and providing funding for sites to pilot the SDOH CC IG,” the ONC blog notes.

Expanded interoperability

The effort seeks to support SDOH interoperability for ONC’s United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) Version 2, which includes a wider range of patient information, and includes SDOH goals and patient goals, that can provide insight into how best to support a patient’s health by meeting the needs they have for factors such as access to transportation, food needs and more.

USCDI “consists of a core set of data classes and elements for nationwide, interoperable health information exchange and includes data elements captured in clinical and health settings to help identify and to address conditions that put a person’s health and well-being at risk,” the ONC blog notes.

Using established standards “in real-time and as part of screening practices (can) help identify specific needs related to food, housing, and transportation insecurity,” ONC states. “It is an important step in enabling more coordinated care and timely assistance or interventions needed to improve health outcomes.”

The federal agency notes it is funding the work through a cooperative agreement with HL7 in support of an initiative by the Department of Health and Human Services, which is undertaking a strategic approach to addressing SDoH to advance health equity. The strategy will “support robust and interconnected data infrastructure, improve access to health and social services, and adopt a whole of government approach for enhancing population health and well-being,” the ONC blog writers note. “This work also helps provide a foundation from which groups, such as the recently announced Sync for Social Needs Initiative, can be most impactful.”

Affinity group and implementation guide activities will be aimed at improving the access, exchange and use of SDOH standards by accelerating the shift to FHIR API standards-based exchange of data elements that support SDOH on a national scale; gaining real-world experience by piloting the SDOH implementation guide; and providing direct support to community-based organizations to participate in the pilot with clinical partners.

“Eligible pilot participants will use the various FHIR resources that have already been made available but are not limited to the SDOH data elements in the USCDI (SDOH Assessment, SDOH Problems/Health Concerns, SDOH Goals and SDOH Interventions),” the blog notes. “The new Pilots Affinity Group is an opportunity open to all stakeholders interested in utilizing the above as well as the soon to be balloted Implementation Guide to deliver more equitable care.”

Call for participation

The Pilots Affinity Group is looking for participation “to learn together while testing and piloting Gravity standards,” the HL7 website notes. Participation levels include observers, which take part in the monthly workgroup meetings, and pilot participants, which commit to testing the Gravity standards in real-world settings.

The next meeting is scheduled for November 17; the full meeting schedule and materials can be found here. Information on the meeting and other details of the affinity group can be found here.

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