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2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory Needs More Detail, AHA Says

November 9, 2015
by Heather Landi
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The American Hospital Association (AHA) issued a letter urging the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to provide more detail than what is currently available in the 2016 draft Interoperability Standards Advisory.

ONC’s draft  Interoperability Standards Advisory, which identifies and assesses the best standards and implementation specifications for supporting clinical health IT interoperability, was released for comment in September.

In a letter issued Nov. 6 and addressed to Karen DeSalvo, M.D., acting assistant secretary for health at ONC within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the AHA urges ONC to “provide greater detail about the characteristics and metrics used to assess the standards identified as the ‘best available,’ including information on the readiness for use by providers to successfully meet government requirements.”

Specifically, the letter, signed by Ashley Thompson, vice president and acting senior executive of policy at AHA, outlined three recommendations for the federal agency to consider.

 The 2016 draft Interoperability Standards Advisory lists each standard in relation to one or more information exchange need and uses a list of six characteristics to assess standards’ readiness to meet the information exchange need. The six characteristics are standards process maturity, implementation maturity, adoption level, regulated, cost and test tool availability.

The AHA recommends that ONC provide more detail about the characteristics and metrics used to identify best standards.

Thompson writes, “The AHA recommends that the advisory include attributes that provide insight on the ability of standards to be deployed and utilized. Supplementing the six characteristics with detailed information on the use of the standard in a real world environment will indicate how each standard was evaluated and achieved the designation ‘best available standard’ in support of an interoperability need.”

The AHA also recommends that ONC clarify the readiness of standards for provider use and points out that the Interoperability Standards Advisory lacks information on the limitations, dependencies or preconditions associated with many of the specific standards and implementation specifications included.

“AHA recommends that ONC publish all available testing results, including those from authorized testing bodies and standards organizations, that indicate how the standard supports the use cases referenced in the Interoperability Standards Advisory,” Thompson writes.

ANA also recommended that the ONC provide additional education about the best available standards to support successful use and specifically coordinate its work with other agencies to increase educational support for providers on the new standards embedded in the meaningful use regulation, as well as the standards in the Interoperability Standards Advisory.

“ONC may apply the designation of ‘best available’ to standards, but whether the standards work will only be proven through successful use in the provision of clinical care,” Thompson writes.

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