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Premier Calls on National Coordinator to Mandate Open-Source for Interoperability

February 9, 2015
by Mark Hagland
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Premier’s Blair Childs calls on Dr. DeSalvo to mandate open-source architecture and open APIs in response to ONC’s Federal Health IT Strategic Plan

In a Feb. 6 letter sent directly to Karen DeSalvo, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT, Blair Childs, senior vice president, public affairs, at the Charlotte-based Premier healthcare alliance, called on Dr. DeSalvo and her colleagues at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to “address the gaps and challenges that remain in achieving interoperability of health IT among providers, care settings, individuals, HIT platforms, and payers,” according to announcement Feb. 9 from Premier.

Speaking of the 2015-2020 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, Childs wrote in his letter to Dr. DeSalvo on behalf of the alliance, which represents about 3,400 hospitals and 110,00 other providers, “Premier supports the vision and mission outlined in the draft plan with focus on collection, sharing, and effective use of health data to transform our healthcare system. We applaud the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s leadership in cording multiple government entities in designing health information technology principles that would promote collaboration among all stakeholders to create a learning health system that focuses on improving healthcare quality, efficiency, safety, affordability and access through government actions and partnerships, and that enables secure exchange of health information in a timely and cost-effective way, while encouraging innovation and competition in the HIT marketplace,” he wrote.

Calling the plan a “useful blueprint,” he cautioned that, “[H]owever, the challenge will be in defining and implementing the tactics to achieve the objectives. In particular, the implementation strategies necessary to share health information requires interoperable systems and innovations that can enable usable data exchanges (ie., send, receive, search) in a cost-efficient manner throughout the healthcare ecosystem.”

Most pointedly, Childs urged that “ONC should incorporate as part of a nationwide governance framework, the requirement of open source software architecture or open application programming interfaces (API) that enable secure innovative applications to facilitate interoperability. In addition,” he wrote, “ONC should require through its certification mechanism cost-effective and secure access to source codes that enable applications to facilitate interoperability on all necessary data sets for various care settings.” That section of the letter was set in bold-face type for emphasis.

Childs underscored that, as ONC officials have heard “in numerous public testimonies by providers, today’s interoperability challenges are mainly due to ‘locked’ HIT systems, where data re closed within propriety silos,” and health information exchange is severely constrained.

The full text of Premier’s letter can be found here.

HCI will continue to update readers on developments in this area.

 

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