Creating a Glide Path to Interoperability – HIMSS Releases a Call to Action

The evolution of our call to action

On Oct. 11, HIMSS published a Call to Action including six key points to accelerate nationwide, ubiquitous, and secure electronic exchange of health information. These points in the call to action are direct, tangible, and actionable over the coming year.

We can all agree that the glide path to interoperable, secure health information exchange is not easy, and by design, this call to action is not easy. Point by point, it contains succinct guidance on what must happen now to achieve better health, better care, and lower cost through the best use of electronic health information.

Earlier this year, the HIMSS North America Board of Directors asked the HIMSS Interoperability & HIE (I&HIE) Committee to consider what guiding principles HIMSS could put forth to further the advancement of interoperable health information exchange. Aware of the continuing progress across the healthcare community, HIMSS also recognized the remaining gaps to engage the broader health, services and research community. One of the key gaps centered on education for the call to action, an area HIMSS now leads.

Key themes grounded in current ‘pain points’

The HIMSS I&HIE Committee worked with HIMSS staff on a concise list of themes to articulate tangible action items. An environmental scan of approaches to national interoperability, plus the committee’s work on trusted exchange frameworks, informed these themes. HIMSS plans to publish the first version of this environmental scan later this year.

Other themes originated from committee members’ direct experience in the field as well as policy discussions in Washington D.C. We referred to these themes as current 'pain points' – what we deal with in our professional and personal lives on a daily basis. After a series of iterations, the committee confirmed six key areas that eventually led to the presentation of the following call to action:

1. Demand Integration between the Interoperability Approaches and Trusted Exchange Frameworks for the Public Good;

2. Educate the Community to Appropriately Implement Existing and Emerging Standards, Data Formats, and Use Cases to Ensure a Comprehensive, Integrated Approach to Care;

3. Ensure Stakeholder Participation from across the care continuum, including patients and caregivers;

4. Identify the "minimum necessary" business rules for Trusted Exchange to enhance care coordination;

5. Standardize and adopt identify management approaches; and

6. Improve usability for data use to support direct care and research.

Building on the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and 21st Century Cures Act

These six guiding principles build on the calls to action included in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. It has been more than two years since the publication of this Roadmap; several of the milestones, calls to action, and commitments presented are complete, in progress, or planned.

However, some of the milestones in the Roadmap are not ready to advance truly interoperable exchange across the continuum of care and across all provider groups, individuals, and their caregivers. Moreover, many of the Roadmap actions do not have a clear “owner” or organization accountable for their completion.

The HIMSS Call to Action addresses this variability by drilling down to a set of six clear actions that can quickly inform near-term initiatives taken on by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the broader health information and technology community.

The 21st Century Cures Act (Cures) provides the impetus needed to initiate and convene activity to address most, if not all, of the calls to action. Cures directs the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to "develop a trusted exchange framework for trust policies and practices and for common agreement for exchange between health information networks."

Under this authority, ONC provides direction and initiates action on Call to Action #1 and #4. Other sections of the Act also support ONC and the broader HHS to address standard adoption priorities, patient and provider education, patient access to their health information, patient matching, and usability of health IT.

Activating the call to action and getting involved

HIMSS welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with all stakeholders that join us in moving the needle towards sustained interoperability. Help us spread the word by sharing the guiding principles from the Call to Action with your members, clients, etc., and incorporate the language in future public comment opportunities initiated by our federal government.

We welcome all who share our commitment to join us in achieving better health through the best use of information and technology!


• Reach out to Mari if you, your organization or company would like more information on becoming an ‘official supporter’ of the HIMSS Call to Action.

• Read the press release and visit our Call to Action page to learn more.