ONC seeks feedback on draft interoperability standards

Working to determine 'best available' interoperability standards and implementation specs
By Jack McCarthy
03:42 PM
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has released a draft of the 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory for public comment. It contains updates to the advisory's structure and content based on input from the public and the Health IT Standards Committee.

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.

In January, ONC released the 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory as an "open draft" to prompt industry dialogue on areas of disagreement over best available standards as well as greater clarity on areas of consensus.

ONC said it expects to annually update the Advisory through an open process that includes advice from the HIT Standards Committee (ONC's federal advisory committee) and the public. The HIT Committee's membership includes providers, healthcare workers, consumers, purchasers, health plans, technology vendors, researchers, relevant federal agencies, and individuals with technical expertise on health care quality, privacy and security, and on the electronic exchange and use of health information.

The new draft, released this week, includes changes to way in which the content is organized, presented, and annotated.

One section has been added to identify "limitations, dependencies, or preconditions" associated with best available standards and implementation specifications.

Another would identify known "security patterns" associated with best available standards and implementation specifications. This section's goal would be "to identify the generally reusable security techniques applicable to interoperability need(s) without prescribing or locking-in particular security standards."

In addition, a security standards sources appendix is included to point stakeholders to the entities that maintain and curate relevant security standards information.

The draft will continue to be refined during the public comment period, which will continue through November 6.