ONC's Draft 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory posted for public comment

The catalog of standards and implementation specs for data exchange is evolving away from a static PDF and toward an interactive, wiki-style platform.
By Mike Miliard
04:28 PM

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has made the new draft 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory available for stakeholder feedback.

The ISA is meant as a catalog to help the industry keep tabs on the long list of standards and implementation specifications available to help meet interoperability requirements. The draft 2017 advisory features updates and improvements derived largely from public comments and the work of the Health IT Standards Committee.

Among the biggest changes between the proposed 2017 ISA and the 2016 version, according to ONC: a transition from being a stand-alone document toward an interactive online tool; links to projects listed in ONC’s Interoperability Proving Ground, showing use of an ISA-listed standard or implementation spec that can demonstrate ongoing implementations; improved clarity around of the pairing of standards for observations (so-called "questions") and standards for observation values ("answers").

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

The agency also discontinued use of the label "best available" as a concept for the ISA, as recommended by the Health IT Standards Committee, according to the draft document. The aim, it says, is to respond to previous public feedback that stakeholders might see certain standards and specifications as "best" - notwithstanding known limitations or low adoption levels.

Instead, ISA should serve as a way to "identify" standards and specifications and "should be as inclusive as possible in order to increase public awareness about a standard or implementation specification’s applicability to an interoperability need," according to the draft document.

In an Aug. 22 blog post, Steven Posnack, director of ONC's Office of Standards and Technology, said ISA a key component of the agency's ongoing implementation of the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and is essential to the commitment signed at HIMSS16 earlier this year by some of the industry's largest vendors, providers and stakeholder groups to adopt "federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance and practices" for healthcare data.

[Also: Burwell: EHR giants Epic, Cerner, Meditech among those taking pledge to standardize health IT]

"By providing the industry with a single, public list of the standards and implementation specifications that can be consistently used to fulfill specific clinical interoperability needs, we hope to spur more seamless and secure flow of information across the health system," Posnack said. "The input and feedback we have received from across the health IT spectrum on earlier ISA versions has helped us continue to shape the ISA into an effective resource and guide for all who are engaged in interoperability work.

"The draft 2017 ISA also represents the first phase of ONC’s effort to transition the ISA to an interactive online platform, starting with the publication of this draft as an online version," he added. "Additional interactive functionality will be built throughout this year. Our goal is to shift the ISA experience from a static, PDF to an interactive, wiki-style product that stakeholders can more fully engage with and shape."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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