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ONC Committees Detail 2012 Work Schedule

January 10, 2012
by David Raths
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Standards group to tackle imaging, quality measure standards

The Jan. 10 meeting of the federal Health IT Policy Committee presented a preliminary framework for the 2012 activities of the federal advisory committees to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT.

Jodi Daniel, director of the Office of Planning and Policy for ONC, offered a view of the policy committee’s work plan. She noted that on the regulatory front, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Stage 2 of meaningful use will appear in February and will be followed by a 60-day comment period. The Meaningful Use Work Group, meanwhile, will continue its work on goals for Stage 3, including hearings on how to incorporate patient-generated data.

Sometime in the first quarter ONC will also publish an Advanced NPRM concern governance of the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN).

John Halamka, M.D., CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, talked about the year ahead for the HIT Standards Committee, which he co-chairs. On the quality measure front, Halamka said, in the first quarter the committee will look at developing a simple query language so that new quality measures can be designed without have to write new code. It will also work on improving implementation guides for the NwHIN to make it easier and more scalable to implement. It also expects to work on finalizing specifications for provider directories for NwHIN Direct and Exchange projects.

John Halamka, M.D.

Later in the year, the Standards Committee plans to tackle other thorny issues, such as imaging standards.  Halamka noted that manufacturers of image modalities, PACS, and viewing software currently extend the DICOM standard in proprietary ways. For HIEs to support image exchange, what is needed is a single, constrained implementation guide for image content, he noted. 

Another topic the group plans to take up later in the year involves data portability from one EHR system to another. Halamka said that meaningful use has not yet included the export and import of data needed for a clinician to change vendors