On October 6th the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released the final version of the Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Version 1.0. The Roadmap focuses on making standardized electronic health information securely available to those who need it and in ways that maximize the ease with which it can be useful and used. The goals of the Roadmap are to build upon and shore up the existing foundation of health IT, move quickly to short-term success, and also lay out a longer term set of drivers and policy and technical components that will achieve the outcomes necessary to achieve its vision.
ONC defines interoperability in the Roadmap as, “the ability of a system to exchange electronic health information with and use electronic health information from other systems without special effort on the part of the user.” The Roadmap also continues in stating that all individuals, their families, and health care providers should be able to send, receive, find and use electronic health information in a manner that is appropriate, secure, timely and reliable to support the health and wellness of individuals through informed, shared decision-making.
In this final version, ONC moved away from the five buildings blocks they proposed in their Draft Version from January 2015 and instead built this final version of the Roadmap around three key buckets: Drivers, Policy and Technical Components, and Outcomes.
The Roadmap sets out a number of period goals in order to achieve interoperability which are as follows:
- 2015-2017: Send, receive, find and use priority data domains to improve health care quality and outcomes.
- 2018-2020: Expand data sources and users in the interoperable health IT ecosystem to improve health and lower costs.
- 2021-2024: Achieve nationwide interoperability to enable a learning health system, with the person at the center of a system that can continuously improve care, public health, and science through real-time data access.
In addition, the Roadmap offers four critical pathways that health IT stakeholders should focus on now in order to create a foundation for long-term success:
- Improve technical standards and implementation guidance for priority data domains and associated elements. In the near-term, the Roadmap focuses on using commonly available standards, while pushing for greater implementation consistency and innovation associated with new standards and technology approaches, such as the use of APIs.
- Rapidly shift and align federal, state, and commercial payment policies from fee-for-service to value-based models to stimulate the demand for interoperability.
- Clarify and align federal and state privacy and security requirements that enable interoperability.
- Align and promote the use of consistent policies and business practices that support interoperability and address those that impede interoperability, in coordination with stakeholders.