The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Tuesday released its 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory, providing the healthcare industry with a list of what ONC calls the best available standards and implementation specifications to fulfill specific clinical health IT interoperability needs.
The advisory, according to ONC officials, is meant to serve as a single resource for those healthcare organizations looking for federally-recognized, national interoperability standards and guidance.
The standards and implementation specifications listed in this advisory focus explicitly on clinical health IT systems interoperability, the document stresses. Thus, the advisorys scope includes electronic health information created in the context of treatment and subsequently used to accomplish a purpose for which interoperability is needed (e.g., a referral to another care provider, public health reporting).
However, ONC warns that the advisory does not include within its scope administrative/payment oriented interoperability purposes or administrative transaction requirements that are governed by HIPAA and administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
2015 was the inaugural year for ONCs advisory. But, according to the agency, this years document has been significantly updated and expanded thanks to two rounds of public comment and recommendations from the HIT Standards Committee.
In reviewing the draft 2016 advisory released during the public comment period this fall, Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative CEO Micky Tripathi argued that several of the standards and specifications in the documentsuch as Basic Patient Privacy Consents (BPPC), Healthcare Provider Directory (HPD), and Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA)are not widely deployed in the industry and are unproven in common practice.
Ultimately, Tripathi said the important question is where is a given standard with respect to adoption and maturity?
To address some of these concerns, the 2016 advisory includes structural changes in the way in which information is presented, including six characteristics for each standard and implementation specification referenced in the document to help provide additional context regarding their relative maturity and adoptability.
The comment period on the just-released 2016 advisory will begin early next year as part of the process to improve and refine the document for the draft 2017 versionwhich will be published nine months from now, according to ONC.
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