ONC publishes interoperability standards advisory

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released the 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) —a catalog of existing and emerging standards and implementation specifications developed and used to meet specific interoperability needs.

"The advisory provides a single resource for those looking for federally recognized, national interoperability standards and guidance," wrote Steven Posnack, MS, MHS, director of the Office of Standards and Technology, and Chris Muir, director of HIT Infrastructure and Innovation Division in the Office of Standards & Technology, in a blog post.

The Advisory is "a critical element of our delivery system reform vision where electronic health information is unlocked and securely accessible to achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier people. It is part of our near-term strategy--laid out in the Interoperability Roadmap--to build on our health IT success to date in order to drive more user friendly technology and connect the current infrastructure."

The Advisory includes significant structural changes that expanded the Standards Advisory’s depth and breadth such as six informative characteristics for each standard and implementation specification referenced. These characteristics will help provide stakeholders with more context regarding the relative maturity and adoptability of standards and implementation specifications, Posnack and Muir wrote. They also help set a baseline to help track industry progress over time as standards and implementation specifications get updated and retired; move from draft to final; mature from pilot to production; and grow from low to high adoption.

"We have been thrilled with the engagement, energy and input we have received throughout the year," they wrote. "We have completed a lot of work--together as a community--in a relatively short period of time. Even though we are marking the publication of the 2016 Standards Advisory today, our work with you will begin again at the start of 2016. The ISA is a continuous, annual process where we make updates and improvements in order to keep pace with developments in the health IT industry—and the draft 2017 Advisory will be published in only nine 'short' months."