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Washington Debrief: ONC Announces Winners of App Challenges

August 29, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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ONC Announces Winners of App Challenges

Key Takeaway: Last month the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced the Phase 1 winners of two app challenges to make electronic health information easier to access and use for both consumers and providers leveraging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard and open application programming interfaces (APIs).

Why It Matters: ONC has prioritized efforts to enable patients and clinicians to easily aggregate health information across health IT platforms, with an emphasis on the use open APIs and FHIR.

The prize winners were announced in two challenges, the Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge and Provider User Experience Challenge. The Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge focuses on the ability to easily and electronically access their health data from different health care providers using a variety of different health IT systems. While the Provider User Experience Challenge promotes the use of FHIR, with a focus on demonstrating how clinical workflows can be more intuitive, specific to clinical specialty, and actionable with the use of APIs. 

ONC Seeks Comments on Interoperability Standards Advisory

Key Takeaway: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is seeking public comment on the draft 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA), in the department’s efforts to improve the identification, assessment and awareness of interoperability standards.

Why It Matters: ONC established the Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA), updated annually, to improve clarity on standards and implementation specifications for clinical health IT interoperability needs in response to industry concerns about standards variation.

ONC states the purposes of the ISA are:

1)    To provide the industry with a single, public list of the standards and implementation specifications that can best be used to fulfill specific clinical health information interoperability needs.

2)    To reflect the results of ongoing dialogue, debate, and consensus among industry stakeholders when more than one standard or implementation specification could be used to fulfill specific clinical health information interoperability need.

3)    To document known limitations, preconditions, and dependencies as well as known security patterns among referenced standards and implementation specifications when they are used to fulfill a specific clinical health IT interoperability need.

The Draft 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory remains focused on clinical health IT interoperability and its updates and improvements are due largely to recommendations received from public comments and the Health IT Standards Committee. The comment period closes on Monday, October 24, 2016 at 5:00 p.m.


Report to Congress Explores Telehealth Issues

Key Takeaway: As requested in the FY16 government funding package, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) delivered a report on telemedicine to Congress.

Why It Matters: Congressional interest in telemedicine has continued to grow year-over-year, yet policymaking has been stunted due to continued questions from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concerning the costs of expanded telemedicine services.

The report, “E-health and Telemedicine,” found that in general, telehealth holds promise as a means of increasing access to care and improving health outcomes. Further, the ASPE report suggested the potential for telehealth to reduce costs.

Among the topics discussed in the 15-page report were licensure, credentialing, reimbursement and connectivity issues. The report also explored the progress made on telehealth within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as well as in the Medicare Advantage program.

Meaningful Use

CHIME Joins Provider Groups to Call for Immediate Finalization of a 90-day Reporting Period in 2016

Key Takeaway: CHIME and 20 other provider organizations to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to finalize the 90-day reporting period for 2016 proposed in the Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule released last month.