5 health IT advocacy groups respond to ONC interoperability framework

The ONC released its draft interoperability framework in April to explain how the office plans to measure the health industry's progress on interoperability.

The "Proposed Interoperability Standards Measurement Framework" detailed an industrywide measurement framework to assess the implementation and use of healthcare interoperability standards. Its goal is to help health IT developers, healthcare exchange organizations and healthcare providers move toward uniform interoperability.

The ONC requested comments on the draft, which were due July 31.

Here is how five health IT advocacy groups reacted to the proposed framework.

American Medical Informatics Association generally supported the framework, but said some of the proposed measures would place a reporting burden on clinicians. "We underscore the need to have the benefits of measurement outweigh the costs, and that there is sufficient effort to develop and implement automated measurement solutions," AMIA wrote.

College of Healthcare Information Management Executives said the ONC did not lay out effective standards and key principles. CHIME recommended the agency work with industry to determine measurements that "offer the most complete picture of the state of interoperability," according to its letter.

Electronic Health Record Association said the framework should focus on data availability, which the group suggested will be essential for performing in-depth and field research to inform industry on the impact of interoperability. The ONC should take a broader approach to help "identify areas of focus to aid transition to a more standard approach that is both human and computer-readable across all systems involved and to get a fuller picture of how widespread interoperability truly is," reads the EHRA letter.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society generally agreed with the proposed framework and its measurement standards. The group added that some surveillance or audit would be necessary to ensure the standards are informing developers' products. "While validation tools can automate some aspects of conformance, audits on certified products would further verify conformance of standards in production," reads the HIMSS letter.

Health IT Now told the ONC the private sector should lead the way in identifying, developing and deploying interoperability standards that work best for them, not a government program. "Interoperability will be largely achieved more rapidly and completely through a bottom-up approach that starts with patient demand and leads to private sector answering that demand. We urge the [HHS] to allow the industry to align on security and transport protocols and common data exchange elements," the HITN letter reads.

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