Healthcare Business News

ONC announces metadata initiative

By Joseph Conn
Posted: September 19, 2011 - 12:45 pm ET

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has announced the "soft launch" of an initiative to use metadata tagging to create patient consent-management controls over the movement of sensitive elements of patients' electronic records. The controls, the ONC noted in an e-mailed statement, are in keeping with recommendations of a December 2010 report by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

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The ONC's Office of the Chief Privacy Officer and the Office of Standards and Interoperability are leading the initiative, which aims to "address standards for the ability to exchange parts of a medical record (often called data segmentation)," according to the statement. The initiative is part of the ONC's Standards & Interoperability Framework. Johnathan Coleman was named as initiative coordinator and Jamie Parker as program manager.

A formal launch of the initiative, featuring a webinar and a public question-and-answer session, is set for Oct. 5.

ONC chief Dr. Farzad Mostashari said in an Aug. 17 blog post that the metadata project "aims to examine and evaluate the standards needed for sharing individually identifiable health information."

The initiative, he continued, "will develop use cases that define the current need for data-protection services, such as a patient's directive not to disclose substance-abuse records in accordance with (federal law), and will then extend current standards-based software models to demonstrate interoperability." Testing "will be based on a reference model aligned with a set of use cases and functional requirements developed by the S&I community," Mostashari said.

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