News Feature | February 11, 2015

ONC Releases Draft Interoperability Roadmap

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


The 10-year draft proposal is designed to deliver improved care and protect EHR data.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released its draft Interoperability Roadmap – Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Version 1.0 - designed to deliver better care and result in healthier people through the safe and secure exchange and use of electronic health information.

“HHS is working to achieve a better health care system with healthier patients, but to do that, we need to ensure that information is available both to consumers and their doctors,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in the release. “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. 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. This Roadmap explains what we can do over the next three years to get there.”

The foundation for the newly released Roadmap was a vision paper issued by ONC in June 2014. The present draft was created following extensive comment and feedback from hundreds of health and health IT experts nationwide. The plan calls for most providers to be able to send, receive, and use “a common set of electronic clinical information at the nationwide level by the end of 2017.” That “common set” includes about 20 components, including patient demographics, lab test results and identifiers for a patient's care team members, according to Modern Healthcare.

The release of the Interoperability Roadmap is tied to the President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative announced during the State of the Union Address and designed to improve care and hasten the development and delivery of new treatments, in addition to the focus on achieving better care, smarter spending, and healthier people through improvements to our health care delivery system.

“While we have made great strides as a nation to improve EHR adoption, we must pivot towards true interoperability based on clear, defined and enforceable standards,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell, F.C.H.I.M.E., C.H.C.I.O. “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.”

“To realize better care and the vision of a learning health system, we will work together across the public and private sectors to clearly define standards, motivate their use through clear incentives, and establish trust in the health IT ecosystem through defining the rules of engagement. We look forward to working collaboratively and systematically with federal, state and private sector partners to see that electronic health information is available when and where it matters,” Karen DeSalvo, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, said in the release.

The public comment period for the draft Roadmap closes April 3, 2015. The public comment period for the Standards Advisory closes May 1, 2015.