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ONC Launches Its 10-Year Interoperability Vision

June 5, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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By 2024, individuals, providers, communities, and researchers should have an array of interoperable health IT products and services that allow the healthcare system to continuously learn and advance the goal of improved healthcare, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) 10-year vision to develop an interoperable health IT ecosystem released on June 5.

In the paper, “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A 10-Year Vision to Achieve an Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure," ONC laid out a broad vision and framework, offering five critical building blocks for achieving its goals, while also unveiling its expectations for three, six and 10 years down the road. The agency’s three-year agenda is to send, receive, find, and use health information to improve healthcare quality; it’s six-year agenda is to use information to improve healthcare quality and lower cost; and its 10-year plan is to have a health IT infrastructure that will support better health for all through a more connected healthcare system and active individual health management.

By year 10, information sharing will be improved at all levels of public health, and research will better generate evidence that is delivered to the point of care. Advanced, more functional technical tools will enable innovation and broader uses of health information to further support health research and public health, the paper says.

Additionally, the evolution of standards, policies, and data infrastructure over the next 10 years will enable more standardized data collection, sharing, and aggregation for patient-centered outcomes research. Continuous learning and improvement will be feasible through analysis of aggregated data from a variety of sources, the paper reads.

In a blog post accompanying the paper, national coordinator for health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D. said, “Achieving this vision will take a strategic and focused effort by the federal government in collaboration with state, tribal, and local governments and the private sector.  We will develop a shared agenda that focuses on five critical building blocks for a nationwide interoperable health IT infrastructure.” Those building blocks include:

  • Core technical standards and functions
  • Certification to support adoption and optimization of health it products and services  
  • Privacy and security protections for health information  
  • Supportive business, clinical cultural and regulatory environments
  • Rules of engagement and governance of health information exchange (HIE)

These building blocks are interdependent and progress must be incremental across all of them over the next decade to realize this vision, the paper states. “We will develop a more comprehensive set of use cases and goals for three, six and ten-year timeframes that will guide work in each of the building blocks, including alignment and coordination of prioritized federal, state, tribal, local, and private sector actions.”

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