ONC publishes interoperability specs for 2016

Living document lays down a baseline for tracking standards as new ones emerge, existing efforts mature and others are retired
By Mike Miliard
10:52 AM

Christmas has come early: ONC just unwrapped the 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory.

The 80-page ISA is catalogs existing and emerging standards and specifications for specific interoperability needs – from lab tests to medications to imaging and beyond. The advisory is meant to be one-stop shopping for "federally recognized, national interoperability standards and guidance," wrote Steven Posnack, director of ONC's Office of Standards and Technology, and Chris Muir, director of the office's HIT Infrastructure and Innovation Division in a blog post on Tuesday.

This edition presents informative characteristics for each standard and implementation specification, with the aim of giving stakeholders more context regarding standards' "relative maturity and adoptability," Posnack and Muir added.

Indeed, those characteristics are meant to set a baseline, helping ONC track interoperability progress industry-wide as standards and specs are "updated and retired; move from draft to final; mature from pilot to production; and grow from low to high adoption," they added.

ISA is a critical part of the vision laid out in ONC's Interoperability Roadmap, to "drive more user friendly technology and connect the current infrastructure," Posnack and Muir wrote. 

As the new year dawns, stakeholders should expect more and more-detailed interoperability guidance from ONC.

"The ISA is a continuous, annual process where we make updates and improvements in order to keep pace with developments in the health IT industry," they explained, "and the draft 2017 Advisory will be published in only nine 'short' months."