AHA to ONC: We need more transparency on interoperability standards

American Hospital Association said the draft 2017 ISA must assess the use, not just adoption, of standards.
By Jack McCarthy
09:41 AM
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AHA ONC interoperability standards

The American Hospital Association (AHA) urged the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to provide more information used to develop specifications in its 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA).

In a letter sent to national coordinator Vindell Washington, MD, the AHA said the draft ISA should provide greater detail about the characteristics it uses to distinguish between mature and emerging standards. The AHA said ONC should make it a priority to organizations conducting maturity assessments so that future iterations of the ISA can include this reference.

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The ONC should also include information on the readiness of standards for provider use, the AHA said. In the draft 2017 ISA, information should be included on actual standards used in the real world, and not just adoption rate. 

“Experience to date indicates that a standard may have a high adoption rate as a result of a health information technology certification requirement, although it does not meet provider needs,” the letter said. “To evaluate the ability of a standard to support interoperability, the draft 2017 ISA must assess the successful use of the included standards, not just adoption.”

Also, the ONC should disseminate information about the use of identified standards to support interoperability, especially private sector initiatives, the AHA said.

“Support for standards implementation through the development of educational materials, funding for technical assistance, national provider calls and ongoing support will be crucial to the successful adoption of standards and implementation specifications that are updated regularly and federally required,” the letter said.

The hospital association also said the ONC should provide additional information on the characteristics of the standards and implementation specifications, including a hyperlink to information on the specifications in the pilot stage of implementation.

Through the ISA process, the ONC is determining the "best available" interoperability standards and implementation specifications for industry use to fulfill specific clinical health IT interoperability needs, according to the ONC.

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