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ONC Shifts SVAP Timeline, Health IT Data Standards Coordination

ONC has announced changes to its SVAP timeline to better support the health IT data standards community.

ONC has adjusted its Standards Version Advancement Process (SVAP) timeline in order to support coordination across the health IT data standards community, the agency wrote in a blog post.

ONC established SVAP in 2020 as part of the ONC Cures Act Final Rule. The process allows health IT developers in the ONC Health IT Certification Program to update their systems to support newer data standards versions for interoperable health information exchange.

“While the standards community has enthusiastically supported the SVAP concept, its real-world use is new,” ONC officials Avinash Shanbhag and Jeff Smith wrote in the blog post.

ONC’s Health IT Certification Program includes data standards developed by numerous organizations with their own standards development timelines. In addition, ONC has finalized the first new version of the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) version 2 and initiated the process to identify USCDI version 3.

HL7 has indicated that it expects to publish newer versions of the US Core Implementation Guide for the latest version of USCDI in March of the subsequent year.

“We expect this cadence of standards development activity will continue in future years, so beginning with the current SVAP and continuing in future years, ONC will announce approved standards for SVAP in June each year and anticipate them becoming effective for Certification Program use in August of that year,” the ONC officials explained.

The June SVAP announcement and August effective date will be informed by a health IT developer comment period extending from January to May.

Shanbhag and Smith noted that ONC extended the current SVAP comment period, originally due to end September 30, 2021, to May 2, 2022.

Additionally, ONC will delay the announcement of next version approved standards for SVAP by approximately 6 months, from January 2022 to June 2022.

“The changes we’ve made will help ensure timely publication of implementation specifications central to our cadence for new versions of USCDI,” the officials wrote.

“We don’t expect this to cause any delays in implementation by health IT developers, but rather the extra time will benefit in further maturing the implementation specifications through additional testing and pilot activities,” Shanbhag and Smith wrote.

The officials also noted a minor change to the naming convention for SVAP based on the new timeline.

Previously, ONC named SVAP releases based on the year during which the comments were received, even though the actual SVAP announcement was made the next year.

“With the updated timeline, and since the entire SVAP process will conclude within the same calendar year, we have taken the opportunity to reset the naming convention to match the year in which the SVAP is approved by the national coordinator,” they explained.

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