Study: Three ONC Query Health Initiative Pilot Projects Achieve Goals

April 9, 2014 in News

Three pilot projects backed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT have demonstrated the potential for the distribution of population-level health queries and responses across different clinical platforms, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, FierceHealthIT reports (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 4/8).


In 2011, ONC launched the Query Health Initiative, which aims to develop standards and services that can distribute population health queries from certified electronic health record systems to network data partners (iHealthBeat, 9/7/11).

According to FierceHealthIT, the initiative aims to better protect population-level health data by aggregating data queries at the original location and then sending the data to researchers (FierceHealthIT, 4/8).

The initiative involved developing:

  • A platform-neutral query and result language;
  • A standard Query Envelope to securely send queries and results; and
  • Other standards.

Study Details

For the study, the researchers reviewed Query Health activities, including:

  • A standards-based methodology;
  • Open-source technologies for reference implementation; and
  • Three pilot projects (Klann et al., JAMIA, 4/3).

Specifically, the researchers studied pilot projects implemented by:

  • FDA, which stored technology to securely transmit and respond to queries in a cloud;
  • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is testing the Query Health Initiative’s ¬†accuracy and speed for adding various practices and health information exchange organizations to its health surveillance program; and
  • Massachusetts, which focused on fully implementing the Query Envelope standard to test its flexibility and security control.

Study Findings

The researchers determined that the three pilots were successful and validated the potential for distributing population-level health queries across various platforms (FierceHealthIT, 4/8).

Although the study authors noted a need for improvements in cross-platform normalization, they noted that the “[l]essons learned from the Query Health experiment are informing the ONC’s [Data Access Framework], which will encourage data availability for future cross-platform use cases” (JAMIA, 4/3).

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