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ONC’s Updated Interoperability Standards Advisory Format Creates Ongoing Feedback Loop

Today’s health IT environment is constantly changing. New stakeholders are joining the health and healthcare landscape; new standards are emerging with the next solution to solving interoperability; new technologies are entering the market to improve the delivery of care. With all of this change, ONC has recognized the importance of providing an interoperability resource that can be responsive to this fluid terrain while still providing valuable tools to help organizations further their efforts to create standards-based interoperable systems.

A Standards Advisory to match the Health IT Environment

Since the introduction of the ONC Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) in 2015, this document has served as a resource to help guide and inform the adoption of the best available standards and specifications. Biannually, HIMSS and other stakeholders welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback on its content, which ONC updated on an annual basis. To better align with the dynamic health IT environment, ONC shifted their annual ISA resource to an interactive web-based application. In its updated format, stakeholders are welcome to provide comments on an ongoing basis, to which the ONC subject matter experts can respond and adjust the ISA in a more reactive, dynamic way. This format is a welcome shift as more standards are included in the resource and more stakeholders seek guidance from the ISA.

HIMSS Engages in the Feedback Process

Since the release of the new ISA, the HIMSS Standards Advisory Task Force has been working to review the requests for feedback and elements included within the resource. HIMSS is pleased to provide their first set of comments in response to the 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) within this new format. This submission represents the first of a series of comments that will be provided by HIMSS and our members in response to ONC requests for information.
In leveraging our members’ expertise, HIMSS offers responses to three of the questions posed by the ONC within their Section V: Questions and Requests for Stakeholder Feedback. HIMSS applauds ISA on the new format and provides suggestions for additional functionalities. These include:

  1. Introducing a plan for version control for updates to the web-based document,
  2. Providing clarification on the “federally required” characteristic,
  3. Creating a system for maintaining user comments,
  4. Linking to relevant use cases and
  5. Updating elements of the webpage navigation.

ONC also requests input on how the ISA is helpful and how it can be improved to add value to nationwide standards adoption and use. HIMSS suggests efforts to highlight the ISA value to the health IT community, through partnerships with other organizations, promotion of case studies and success stories, and the exploration of new marketing strategies for the ISA. HIMSS reiterates its belief that language indicating the role of these standards as “best available” would strengthen the adoption of the standards the ISA promotes. Finally, HIMSS suggests updates to the Security Appendix and the inclusion of standards related specifically to Mobile Health.

HIMSS also provides input related to the specific interoperability needs provided in the ISA, and shares feedback related to additional Social Determinants of Health (SDOHs) to consider within the ISA. HIMSS supports the expansion of SDOHs represented in the ISA and suggests additional determinants representing Country of Origin, Dietary Patterns, Neighborhood and Community Demographics, Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health. HIMSS also proposes expansions on specific SDOHs that already are included in the ISA. These include updates to the standards related to Industry and Occupation, Depression, Tobacco Use/Exposure, and Exposure to Violence.

A Common Goal of Standards-Based Interoperability

HIMSS is excited to continue to work with ONC to develop the resources included within the Interoperability Standards Advisory and will continue to work to improve this document to better serve the needs of the health IT community. We support ONC in their efforts to advance standards-based interoperability and health information exchange, and look forward to a continued collaboration in reaching these goals.

View HIMSS’ final comments