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ONC's Steve Posnack: New Interoperability Proving Ground 'like Match.com for FHIR'

Project aims to highlight interoperability successes and bring the community together to address challenges.  
By Tom Sullivan
06:16 PM
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Steve Posnack of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT likened ONC’s new Interoperability Proving Ground to online dating sites.

LAS VEGAS – Steve Posnack of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT likened ONC’s new Interoperability Proving Ground to online dating sites.

“There’s a lot going on around interoperability, we just have to prove it,” Posnack, director of ONC’s office of standards and technology, said on Monday morning.

That is the intention of the Interoperability Proving Ground Posnack unveiled last week and outlined at HIMSS16 – to highlight interoperability successes and bring the community together to address challenges.

Posnack called that an example hidden in plain sight that other providers around the nation could learn from.

“It’s like Match.com for FHIR,” Posnack said. The Interoperability Proving Ground is not just for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, however, the project is also for Consolidated CDA, eHealth Exchange, HL7 CDC Immunization records, Direct, and the Semantic Interoperability Framework.

The proving ground works like this: Participants sign up, share information about projects they’re undertaking, what has worked, what has not, and then much like the way dating sites operate, the can elect to receive alerts when topics of interest are updated.

And there’s an interactive map so participants can see who in their geographical region is working on, say, FHIR and also view what other hospitals are doing around the country.

Posnack pointed to the work of exchanging records that HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania embarked upon while gearing up for Pope Francis visit.

Ultimately, the test ahead of the Pope’s visit laid the groundwork for the HIE’s goal to swap data with the 15,000 providers in the greater Philadelphia area moving toward its goal of connecting 100 percent of those physicians and 90 percent of hospitals and community health centers in the region by the end of 2016.

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“For those of you who have done something really cool in the last 12 months, put it in,” Posnack urged attendees. “It will be in the completed table but it will still be in there. If you have results share those as well.”

Echoing Posnack’s sentiment that there is more happening in interoperability than is widely recognized right now, Elliot Sloane, President of the nonprofit Center for Healthcare Information Research and Policy and a HIMSS Fellow said in a subsequent session that the interoperability problem is bigger than any one entity, be that federal government or private sector.

“But there’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming locomotive,” Sloane said. “We’re making progress.” 

Acknowledging the mild irony of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to say, Posnack explained that what ONC is trying to do it build on that progress by working with federal agencies, private healthcare organizations and the vendor community.

“Cooperation without coordination is what we’re looking for,” Posnack said, adding that, having been with ONC for 10 years, today he is optimistic about interoperability.

“First we were worried about adoption, then HITECH came along so we worried about getting meaningful use set up,” Posnack said. “In 2006 I would have given my right arm to have the adoption rates of today. We have better problems to solve now.” 

Twitter: @SullyHIT


This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the HIMSS16 conference. Follow our live blog for real-time updates, and visit Destination HIMSS16 for a full rundown of our reporting from the show. For a selection of some of the best social media posts of the show, visit our Trending at #HIMSS16 hub.