ONC seeks input on EHR metadata

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has released an advance on a proposed rule about the use of existing metadata standards to support electronic health information exchange and to get feedback on the experience from various organizations that may have applied them.

ONC is considering inclusion of certain metadata standards in Stage 2 of meaningful use.

[See also: White House calls for health data exchange standards]

The use of metadata, or elements that describe data, is considered key to fueling more complex health information exchange. 

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) offers ONC's first draft views on the adoption of metadata standards, using the scenario where a patient obtains a summary care record from a provider’s electronic health record or requests for it to be transmitted to their personal health record. 

ONC released the document late Aug. 5 and will publish it in the Aug. 9 Federal Register, after which the public will have 45 days, or until Sept. 23, to comment.

[See also: Top 5 worst EMR myths]

“We believe that the use of metadata holds great promise and the adoption of metadata standards can help rapidly advance electronic health information exchange across a variety of different exchange architectures,” ONC stated in the advanced proposed rule document.

Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national health IT coordinator, said in June that ONC wants to learnd about organizations' real-world experience with metadata in comments from the proposed rule before ONC publishes the proposed regulation for standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria for Stage 2 of meaningful use likely at the of the year.

Some current standards contain metadata tags, such as the Health Level 7 Clinical Document Architecture Release 2 (HL7 CDA v.2) and ASTM’s Continuity of Care Record, summary care record formats either of which providers can use under Stage 1 of meaningful use.

Increasing trust

Under the proposed rules scenario, a set of standards for metadata could be wrapped around or attached to a summary care record when patients seek to download their health information from a provider’s patient portal or transmit it directly to their individual PHR.

ONC is focusing on the metadata for that single scenario - patient identity, or data elements about a patient; provenance, or data about the source of the clinical data; and privacy, data about the type and sensitivity of clinical information.

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