HITN Welcomes ONC Paper on Interoperability

HITN Applauds Dr. DeSalvo and ONC as they Move Forward on this National Priority

Today, Dr. Karen DeSalvo and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released the paper Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A 10-Year Vision to Achieve an Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure. The paper lays out a 10 year vision for achieving ever greater levels of health information technology interoperability, or the ability for different systems to share and use health information.

In response to the paper’s release, Joel White, Executive Director of Health IT Now (HITN) made the following statement:

HITN has advocated for more robust interoperability since the Coalition began in 2007, so we applaud ONC’s vision to achieve greater interoperability between now and 2024. Interoperability is a precursor to transformation that lowers health costs, and that improves health outcomes, quality and safety.

We are now going into the fourth year of the Meaningful Use program, which has focused on automation of provider practices and transaction processing using technology best suited to fee-for-service models.  Thus it is refreshing that ONC has presented a long overdue vision for the future where technology programs are aligned to support coordinated care models.  To be successful, we believe ONC must now produce a specific work plan with timelines that achieves the greatest degree of integration.

Dr. DeSalvo invited health IT stakeholders to weigh in on the issue, and HITN intends to offer substantive input on the development of a bold series of changes ONC might use in the Meaningful Use, EHR certification and health information exchange programs to make information and data as liquid as water.  To that end, HITN suggests the following:


  • First, we believe ONC should advance the timeframe for achieving semantic interoperability dramatically. This level of information sharing and use should be achieved within three years.
  • Second, ONC should use every authority at its disposal to break down data silos or business practices that block the exchange of information.
  • Third, ONC should bring together all standards development organizations to build the technical vocabulary, data content and templates needed to facilitate information exchange and use.
  • Fourth, Congress and the Administration should provide ONC the tools it needs to achieve the vision. At the end of the day, meaningful use is not a technology program, it is an effort to create the means by which providers are enabled to lower costs and improve outcomes. This should be a bipartisan effort.

Automating yesterday’s health system wasn’t and isn’t the answer.  We need to achieve ONC’s vision more rapidly to give patients the technology they need to actively engage in their own health and wellness.