ONC will guide interoperability with a framework and agreement
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology plans to harness a private sector organization to help expand interoperability among health information networks, according to the office's new draft framework and agreement released Friday.
ONC said it will select a group via a competitive bidding process to draw up an interoperability agreement that includes minimum requirements that support the exchange of electronic haelth information across digital networks. Health information networks and their participants can, but are not required to, adopt the agreement.
The agreement will support the principles in the Draft Trusted Exchange Framework the ONC put out on Friday to meet some of the requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act.
"Historically, a lot of interoperability has been thought of in the single-provider-to-single-provider context about an individual patient," said ONC head Dr. Donald Rucker in a conference call Friday morning. "That's the base assumption, but Congress is looking for a broader set of things."
Primarily, Congress is looking for a way to establish methods for "trusted exchange" that improve the quality of care and encourage innovation. The ONC will use the draft framework to help get there, steering organizations towards greater interoperability.
In the framework, the ONC recommends that stakeholders across the industry use federally recognized standards, exchange information transparently and cooperate with each other—even with competitors.
The agency also recommends that stakeholders promote patient safety with their data exchange and give people "easy access" to their digital health information.
These guidelines and the associated agreement will help health information exchanges, said Genevieve Morris, principal deputy national coordinator for health information technology
"On the regional HIE front, we know they've struggled around connectivity," she said. "We believe that the trusted exchange framework will give them easier access to some of the data, and the market will shift away from hording that data for competitive advantage."
The ONC will be accepting comments on the draft framework until February 18.
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