ONC Outlines Timelines for Interoperability Goals, Beginning With 2017 Deadline

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released the first draft of its interoperability roadmap to deliver better care through the exchange and use of health information technology.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released the first draft of its interoperability roadmap to deliver better care through the exchange and use of health information technology (IT).

The roadmap lays out the plans for the next 3 years in order to meet the goals first laid out in ONC’s “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A 10-Year Vision to Achieve Health IT Infrastructure,” which was first issued in June 2014.

“Great progress has been made to digitize the care experience, and now it’s time to free up this data so patients and providers can securely access their health information when and where they need it,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. “A successful learning system relies on an interoperable health IT system where information can be collected, shared, and used to improve health, facilitate research, and inform clinical outcomes.”

The roadmap will provide guidelines so the majority of individuals and providers can send, receive, find, and use a common set of electronic clinical information across the care continuum and at the nationwide level by the end of 2017.

The report also outlined 4 important actions for both public and private sector stakeholders to take to enable interoperability of electronic health information in the near term:

1. Establish a coordinated governance framework and process for nationwide health IT interoperability

2. Improve technical standards and implementation guidance for sharing and using a common clinical data set

3. Enhance incentives for sharing electronic health information according to common technical standards, starting with a common clinical data set

4. Clarify privacy and security requirements that enable interoperability

The roadmap also provides more detailed near-term actions for each high priority area, a common clinical data set of 19 basic elements, and an updated estimated timeline of select high-level critical actions.

The plan from ONC is open to the public for comment until April 3.

“While we have made great strides as a nation to improve [electronic health record] adoption, we must pivot towards true interoperability based on clear, defined, and enforceable standards,” Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO, president and chief executive officer of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, said. “This Roadmap incorporates a tremendous amount of stakeholder input and articulates a clear path towards interoperability. It is a cornerstone in the continuing evolution of federal health IT policymaking.”