ONC opens system to submit new data elements to USCDI

The agency will accept suggestions for new data classes for the United States Core Data for Interoperability, via its new ONDEC system, through Oct. 9.
By Kat Jercich
12:46 PM

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced Tuesday that stakeholders can now submit proposals for new data elements in the United States Core Data for Interoperability.

Using the ONC New Data Element and Class, or ONDEC, submission system, individuals can propose new data elements and classes for inclusion in the second draft of USCDI, officials from ONC explained.

The USCDI, a set of data classes and elements for interoperable health exchange, is now required to be used instead of the Common Clinical Data Set in multiple certification criteria, including “transmission to public health agencies – electronic case reporting"; "view, download, and transmit to 3rd party"; and "transitions of care." Its use is also required as part of the new API certification.

"ONC will follow a predictable, transparent, and collaborative process to expand the USCDI, including providing stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the USCDI's expansion," said the agency in a USCDI fact sheet released in March.

"Based on public input, the draft of the next version of USCDI will be presented to the public for review and comment before it’s finalized," the ONC continued.

The time for that public input is now.


The ONC will draft and finalize future versions of the USCDI based on users' data element submissions. 

Revision, explained the agency, is a three-step process.

First, submission of data elements using the ONDEC system, "including information on the use case(s), applicable standards and technical specifications, existing use and exchange of the data, and potential challenges for development and implementation."

The ONC will then evaluate the submissions, designating each data element a level corresponding with its "overall value, maturity and potential challenges."

The agency then posts submitted elements on the USCDI page, allowing users to add or change information on their own submissions or to comment on other submissions.

"Around October of each year, ONC will consider submissions classified at Level 2 for the next version of the draft USCDI standard," explained the release. "This draft will be presented to the Health IT Advisory Committee, and to the public for additional comment before the next version of the USCDI standard is published in July."


The release of the final rules regarding interoperability this March triggered a wave of conversations around implementation and best practices.

Although the enforcement timeline was somewhat delayed due to COVID-19, covered healthcare organizations will have to be ready to share any data elements that fall within the USCDI for 24 months.

Critics, however, have noted that the USCDI is quite narrow – and that the interoperability rules need to also include measures of effectiveness that incorporate existing USCDI elements.

"From thousands of possible EHR data elements, the ONC’s current US Core Data for Interoperability ... includes only 21, omitting at least 50 elements 'critical' for interoperability," wrote three University of California San Francisco informatics and health policy experts in a blog post for Health Affairs earlier this month.


"The USCDI ONDEC system builds upon the success we have achieved engaging with stakeholders through our Interoperability Standards Advisory platform and leverages the ISA to allow for USCDI ONDEC submissions and public comments," wrote ONC officials in a July 27 blog post.

"Once finalized, new versions of the USCDI will also feed into the Standards Version Advancement Process," they explained. "The SVAP allows health IT developers in the ONC Health IT Certification Program to voluntarily update their products to include National Coordinator-approved newer versions of select standards without waiting for future rulemaking."

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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