Connecting the Interoperability Puzzle Pieces in ONC Resource

In April, I wrote a blog post introducing the new interactive Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) and sharing HIMSS’s first set of comments in response to ONC requests for feedback included in the document. The HIMSS Standards Advisory Task Force recently compiled a second set of comments, continuing the conversation about critical needs to improve interoperability within the health IT ecosystem.

If you look back to the earliest versions of the ISA, you can see how this resource has evolved and continues to expand how it captures the industry’s adoption and use of interoperability standards. Interoperability is critical to keeping communities and patients safe, but it is also complicated due to the expanding number of settings and use cases that continue to emerge. The interoperability puzzle pieces come together through each iteration of the ISA. 

Two of the 2017 Requests for Feedback that we addressed in our recent comments are valuable examples of ONC’s efforts to provide guidance on new interoperability needs and emerging standards. HIMSS hopes that our feedback can help refine their representation of these updates.

New and Expanded Interoperability Needs to Cover the Entire Care Continuum

The ISA is expanding its interoperability needs to fully capture care at every stage of life and seeking feedback on the inclusion of birth and newborn datasets as a new ISA Interoperability Need. In its feedback, HIMSS provides recommendations on standards and specifications to address this need and better represent important health data transferred between mothers, newborns and pediatric medical records. Based on these recommendations, HIMSS also suggests expanded birth reporting standards in the ISA’s Public Health Reporting Interoperability Needs, and provides recommended standards and specifications for that topic area as well.

Proper Representation of Emerging Standards

Undoubtedly, HL7 FHIR® continues to expand in its application for interoperability needs, and in previous versions of the ISA, ONC had challenges properly representing the range of this emerging standard. HIMSS agrees with their new classification of FHIR® as a “data element based query,” expanding upon their previous description of FHIR® as “representing data as resources.” Given how broad FHIR® is in its application, its representation in this document is likely to expand over time. The new dynamic format of the ISA offers flexibility to allow ONC to adjust its guidance as adoption of FHIR® continues in a variety of settings.

More Recommendations to Drive the ISA Forward

These are just two of the recent recommendations HIMSS provided in the ISA. To review all of HIMSS recent comments, click here.

Interested in participating in future HIMSS reviews of the Interoperability Standards Advisory? Email for more information.