‘Actionable’ steps to interoperability

October 18, 2014 in Medical Technology

The highly anticipated final recommendations from the JASON task force arrived on Wednesday afternoon.

JASON, a group of independent scientists who advise the federal government, issued a November 2013 report to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Agency for Health Research and Quality on the matter of interoperability.

[See also: Go easy on Stage 3 MU, says JASON group]

The resulting analysis, not surprisingly, was highly critical of the current state of interoperability and electronic health record systems vendors.

ONC, for its part, has since established a task force to consider the JASON report.

Calling it the capstone of Wednesday’s joint HIT Policy and Standards Committees meeting, John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and vice chair of the HIT Standards committee, explained that the JASON task force essentially “takes a set of general recommendations and turns them into actionable next steps.”

[See also: Interoperability: supply and demand]

Here are the half-dozen recommendations the JASON task force made to ONC, as co-chairs David McCallie, vice president of medical informatics at Cerner, and Micky Tripathi, CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, explained them:

  1. Focus on interoperability. ONC and CMS should re-align the meaningful use program to shift focus to expanding interoperability, and initiating adoption of Public APIs.
  2. Establish an industry-based ecosystem. A Coordinated Architecture based on market-based arrangements should be defined to create an ecosystem to support API-based interoperability.
  3. Set up Data Sharing Networks. The architecture should be based on a Coordinated Architecture that loosely couples market-based Data Sharing Networks.
  4. Enable the Public API as basic conduit of interoperability. The Public API should allow data- and document-level access to clinical and financial systems according to contemporary Internet principles
  5. Create Priority API Services. Core Data Services and Profiles should define the minimal data and document types supported by Public APIs
  6. Institute the government as market motivator. ONC should assertively monitor the progress of exchange and implement non-regulatory steps to catalyze the adoption of Public APIs.  

The overarching message is that ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should “act with urgency” to encourage and motivate the industry through whatever mechanisms available to fuel interoperability through meaningful use.

“As we think about Stage 3, the narrow focus on interoperability is really the way to go here,” Tripathi explained. “We believe the government can play a strong role and have a lot of influence over the market in ways non-regulatory in nature.”

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