Several Groups Submit Comments on ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap

April 3, 2015 in News

Several groups have submitted comments on the Office of the National Coordinator for Heath IT’s draft nationwide interoperability roadmap and its goal to achieve basic electronic health data interoperability by 2017, FierceHealthIT reports (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 4/2). Friday is the deadline to submit comments.

Details of Draft Roadmap

The draft roadmap, titled “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Draft Version 1.0,” outlines short- and long-term goals for the next 10 years, with 2017 set as the deadline by which “a majority of individuals and providers across the care continuum” should be able “to send, receive, find and use a common set of electronic clinical information.”

Specifically, ONC outlined four short-term actions:

  • Clarifying privacy and security requirements needed to guarantee secure transmission, access and use of sensitive patient data;
  • Enhancing incentives for achieving interoperability and data sharing goals that are based on a common clinical data set;
  • Establishing a coordinated governance framework and process for nationwide interoperability based on stakeholder consensus; and
  • Improving technical standards and implementation guidance for sharing data.

In addition, the document outlines 10 updated guiding principles for achieving nationwide interoperability over a 10-year period based on stakeholder feedback (iHealthBeat, 2/2).

CPeH Comments

The Consumer Partnership for eHealth in its comments applauded ONC for:

  • Focusing on improving interoperability to advance a learning health system; and
  • Promoting the principle that all individuals should be able to access digital health data.

CPeH also offered several recommendations, such as:

  • Implementing HHS’s demographic data collection standards;
  • Including information on patients’ functional limitations, disabilities and sexual orientation in the clinical data set;
  • Including more “meaningful involvement of consumer/patient representatives” in the roadmap; and
  • Mandating that all alternative payment models detail ways they are using interoperable technology to improve information exchange.

EHNAC Comments

The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission in a letter to ONC praised the roadmap’s efforts to improve testing and certification of health IT services and products. EHNAC recommended that ONC:

  • Authorize organizations to determine which accreditation/certification they wish to achieve;
  • Expand its focus on accreditation/certification beyond only interoperability; and
  • Work with existing accreditation/certification programs, and begin such work during the process of adopting standards in order to provide tools as soon as possible (FierceHealthIT, 4/2).

HIMSS Comments

In a separate letter to ONC, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society said that it “overall supports” the tenets of the roadmap to advance interoperability.

In particular, HIMSS praised the roadmaps’ “person-centric vision,” which it said would give patients the tools to urge health IT systems and providers to be interoperable.

HIMSS recommended that ONC:

  • Implement “robust incentives” to spur the effective coordination of governance processes between the federal government, patients, payers and others in the private sector to help them “buy-in” to advancing interoperability;
  • Scale back several of the three- six- and ten-year timeframes for critical actions under the roadmap, which it said “are too aggressive” and should “be reevaluated, with the exception of the privacy and security provisions”; and
  • Not require individual consent for the disclosure and use of data if such consent is not made mandatory by applicable law.

The organization also stressed that the health care sector requires support to improve data security and combat cybersecurity threats (HIMSS release, 4/3).

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