ANN ARBOR, MI, January 30, 2015 – Building on the announcement from HHS yesterday, pledging much-needed changes to the Meaningful Use program, healthcare IT leaders praised the release of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) “2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory,” calling it an essential component of the newly released Interoperability Roadmap. The nation’s chief information officers (CIOs) say the new document will enable broad discussion over the use of specific standards – both current and future – in health IT.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) welcomed the release of ONC’s 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory today as part of the Office’s broader Interoperability Roadmap. The Interoperability Standards Advisory is a non-binding, non-regulatory document meant to help facilitate discussion and debate on clinical standards currently used in healthcare and referenced in regulation. The Advisory identifies specific standards and references implementation guidelines across four areas of standards, including content, vocabulary, transport and services.
“This is a much-needed playbook for each and every health IT professional,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO. “Now, healthcare providers and health IT developers have a single source of truth, with an extensible process to align clinical standards towards improved interoperability, efficiency and patient safety. While we have made great strides as a nation to improve EHR adoption, we must pivot towards true interoperability based on clear, defined and enforceable standards.”
CHIME has long-advocated for clear, enforceable standards to help drive EHR optimization and interoperability. Last year, CHIME told policymakers that, “efforts to coalesce around transport, vocabulary and content standards – through ONC’s certification program and driven by Meaningful Use requirements – has been important work,” but that there was a need to develop an “adaptable process” for identifying standards.
“[G]overnment and private industry need to develop a way to test, refine and update health IT standards over time. This process cannot and should not follow the historic trend of incorporating emerging standards into national programs that are de facto mandates for providers (e.g. certification criteria for MU),” CHIME said in comments submitted to ONC as part of the draft Interoperability Roadmap. “Industry and government stakeholders need to collaborate on a process that will allow for rapid standards development and refinement, [without requiring] the use of premature standards. This process should align with how the S&I Framework coordinates work, and there needs to be an intermediate step beyond small pilot projects and short of EHR certification incorporation.”
Organization leaders at CHIME believe this is an important first step towards fulfilling that recommendation.
“This document will help health IT executives compare standards used by their solutions with standards required by federal programs, as well as standards prominent in the industry,” said CHIME Board Chair Charles Christian, FCHIME, LCHIME, CHCIO, Vice President and CIO at Columbus, GA-based St. Francis Hospital. “This process will enable a national discussion between standards developers, technology developers, providers and the public to determine which standards hold the most promise, from conceptualization through implementation.”