Health IT Now Commends ONC, HHS for Step Forward on Interoperability

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT officially presented their 10-year vision for interoperability.  National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Karen DeSalvo issued a call to arms about how to achieve interoperability, unequivocally supporting interoperability as a priority that must become a reality. She called on a panel of experts to approve recommendations from the JASON Task Force that would more aggressively and effectively establish health care interoperability.

Joel White, Executive Director of the Health IT Now Coalition, issued the following statement in response to today’s developments:

“We are thrilled that DeSalvo has issued a call to action that immediately challenges the status quo to think beyond pecuniary interests to transforming health care. We couldn’t agree more. The problems that exist in interoperability are largely understood. The dialogue should now transition to how we best achieve interoperability, and it should be done as quickly as possible. The HHS Health IT Policy and HIT Standards Committees must step up, take charge and demand better results for patients. The question is whether we let the proponents of the status quo continue to dictate health IT policies that don’t work for most Americans.

“As Health IT Now has long contended, the lack of interoperability is a key factor in limiting the effectiveness of EHRs.  Dr. DeSalvo’s urging today will make Meaningful Use work better for providers, patients and taxpayers.  Creating a health information architecture where the market can focus on functionality, usability and reliability of software rather than proprietary networks and closed systems is a necessary first step to interoperability.  Publishing APIs will help address known problems around blocking access to data and documents that help providers treat patients.

“To date, the administration has focused on automating the current fee-for-service system rather than transforming the system by building an open architecture for health information technology to support coordinated care.  It would be a tragedy if the status quo ignored the opportunity created by Dr. DeSalvo and her colleagues at ONC to act immediately on the Task Force recommendations once finalized.  We look forward to working with ONC to make Meaningful Use more meaningful.”

ONC’s recommended interoperability roadmap comes during a season of renewed Administration action on the issue. Recently, the HHS Health IT Policy Committee’s JASON Task Force issued draft recommendations endorsing key elements of a major reshaping of the Meaningful Use program.  Among the Task Force’s Recommendations:

  1.  Focus on Interoperability. ONC and CMS should re-align the MU program to shift focus to expanding interoperability and initiating adoption of Public APIs.
  2.  Industry-Based Ecosystem. A Coordinated Architecture based on market-based arrangements should be defined to create an ecosystem to support API-based interoperability.
  3.  Data Sharing Networks in a Coordinated Architecture. The architecture should be based on a Coordinated Architecture that loosely couples market-based Data Sharing Networks.
  4.  Public API as basic conduit of interoperability. The Public API should enable data- and document-level access to clinical and financial systems according to contemporary internet principles.
  5.  Priority API Services. Core Data Services and Profiles should define the minimal data and document types supported by Public APIs.
  6.  Government as market motivator. ONC should assertively monitor the progress of exchange and implement non-regulatory steps to catalyze the adoption of Public APIs.

ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap update is available here and the JASON Task Force draft recommendations are available here.