5 ways ONC plans for interoperability

'No one person, organization, or government agency alone can realize this vision of an interconnected health system.'
By Diana Manos
10:18 AM
Illustration of connected network concept

Interoperability, the Achilles heel of electronic health record progress has been in the limelight since the beginning of the stimulus package incentive funding for EHR adoption. And though EHR implementation rates have proven successful, interoperability leaves something to be desired.

Against that backdrop, the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released a new 13-page treatise on how interoperability might be achieved over the next 10 years.

[See also: DeSalvo: Interoperability 'top priority'.]

The paper comes as ONC is amid a restructuring with the winding down of stimulus funding, and as the office faces heat from House Republicans who want to know what ONC’s intentions are with respect to health app regulation. 

With the majority of hospitals and physicians now adopters and meaningful users of electronic health records, according to the paper, the market is primed and ready to tackle interoperability.

To achieve interoperability by 2024, ONC intends to focus on:

  1. Core technical standards and functions
  2. Certification to support adoption and optimization of health IT products and services
  3. Privacy and security protections for health information
  4. Supportive business, clinical, cultural, and regulatory environments
  5. Rules of engagement and governance

“To ensure that individuals and care providers send, receive, find, and use a basic set of essential health information across the care continuum over the next three years, we need to migrate policy and funding levers to create the business and clinical imperative for interoperability and electronic health information exchange,” according to the paper.

[See also: Time for hard HITECH reboot.] and [Lack of interoperability stalls progress].

ONC officials said ONC efforts to fuel interoperability would include the work of other industry stakeholders, public and private alike.

“No one person, organization, or government agency alone can realize this vision of an interconnected health system,” ONC explained. “But together, we can achieve the promise and potential of health information technology to improve the health of all.”

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