ONC sets 2017 interoperability deadline

The Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology introduced a series of goals to promote advancement of the national use of electronic health systems and set a goal of complete nationwide interoperability by 2017.

In "Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap," released Jan. 30, National Coordinator Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, highlighted three central goals for the next decade: requiring standards, motivating the use of standards through incentives and creating an environment for the collecting, sharing and using of electronic health information.

However, the main thrust of the report was to urge more interoperability for EHR systems.

"Although this near-term target focuses on individuals and care providers, interoperability of this core set of electronic health information will also be useful to community-based services, social services, public health and the research community," Dr. DeSalvo said in the report.

The report listed three current barriers to interoperability, including poor structure for electronic health data to be fully accessible, a lack of financial motives to develop sufficient interoperability and a lack of structure to share across multiple systems.

The ONC called for four immediate actions:

∙ Create a framework for nationwide health information interoperability.

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

∙ Advance incentives for sharing health information according to the improved technical standards and clinical data set.

∙ Clarify privacy and security requirements to enable interoperability.

While the report sets an initial deadline of 2017, the timeline listed later in the report extends to 2020, stretching the full implementation periods over three years. The ONC has asked for public comment through April 3, after which time it will publish an updated Roadmap. It will also release an open draft of the 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory for comment.


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