In order to further advance the HIMSS strategic topic of semantic interoperability and standardization leading to successful exchange and re-use of health information (verb), it is extremely important to form a volunteer committee focused on the topic of interoperability. This committee will engage HIMSS members to provide feedback and comments for National Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), develop tools and content to expand the HIMSS I&S Toolkit, and execute tactical planning to support HIMSS strategic interoperability and standards goals and objectives.
With a growing national interest and demand for more robust Health IT interoperability that will support clinical decision support, evidence based medicine and outcomes research, care coordination within and across provider organizations, and patient engagement, the proliferation of health information exchange initiatives that adhere to standards for health IT that do not support semantic interoperability has actually retarded the advancement of seamless, interoperable systems. This situation imposes additional barriers to understanding the roles and objectives of each initiative. So long as there is so much variation in the standards being used for different health information exchanges, it is not feasible for one individual or organization to participate in or provide input to all pertinent healthcare IT standardization activities. Moreover, as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told members of Congress, “health reform is not contingent merely upon health IT adoption, but on health IT interoperability.” The advancement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or its successor will depend on the continued adoption of semantically interoperable, standards based Health IT.