ONC Forum Addresses Transforming Patient Care through Interoperability

ONC Forum Addresses Transforming Patient Care through Interoperability

Last week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) hosted a three-day Interoperability Forum in Washington, DC. The event brought people together from ONC, its federal partners, the healthcare industry and the technology sector to learn about recent efforts to advance interoperability nationwide and identify concrete actions in response to current interoperability challenges.

HIMSS continues to closely follow ONC and other Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies as they move forward on advancing policies to facilitate more data exchange and interoperability. The discussions at the Interoperability Forum are preceding a busy autumn, when ONC should be releasing several documents, including:

  • A draft rule focused on conditions of health IT certification with a focus on creating a federal definition on what is information blocking
  • A competitive funding opportunity announcement for the Recognized Coordinating Entity envisioned under the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) draft guidance
  • A second iteration of TEFCA

HIMSS plans to distribute more information and assessments on ONC’s actions as the documents become available.

The first day of the Interoperability Forum kicked-off with a number of updates from ONC on internal projects and those they collaborate on with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to make the exchange of health data seamless. National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Don Rucker, MD, discussed the information blocking rule that ONC will be releasing, and how his goal is to make protocols and standards that would let large amounts of health data flow easily between health providers, not just individual patient charts. During her remarks, CMS Administrator Seema Verma noted that her agency is working to make healthcare providers fax-free by 2020, stating, "Once information is freely flowing from the patient to the provider, the advances in coordinated value-based and patient-centric care will be even greater than anything we can imagine today."

The second and third days of the Forum were spent discussing the various challenges around interoperability, with breakout sessions on day two and broader panel discussions during day three. Tracks for the breakout sessions focused on various aspects of interoperability, such as the deployment of application programming interfaces (APIs), improving clinicians’ experience with interoperability, patient matching and security. Day three offered attendees the opportunity to hear about the various breakout sessions and learn the potential key next steps for the entire community to undertake. The third day also offered a chance to see a demo on a new patient health record solution for smart phones. The FHIR®-based app allows patients to combine their records from multiple places into one location on their phone.

More details about the Forum are available in a blog post from HIMSS’ Katie Crenshaw, our manager of informatics.

Finally, during the Interoperability Forum, ONC announced its next annual meeting will be held in Washington, DC, on November 29 and 30.

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