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ONC Prompts Health IT Leaders to Make Interoperability Outcome Goals

A project launched by ONC aims to gather health IT leader insight on goals regarding the development of interoperability over the next ten years.

ONC called for health IT leaders to consider where health IT interoperability has taken them and where they hope to see the industry go in a recent post announcing its “Health Interoperability Outcomes 2030” project.

ONC will use public feedback from health IT industry leaders to create a prioritized set of interoperability outcomes that health IT leaders hope to achieve by 2030. Insights will be published in the fall.

“Over the next few months, we’re looking for your take on aspirational and achievable ‘health interoperability outcome statements,’” Steven Posnack, deputy national coordinator for Health IT, wrote in the post. “Your perspectives will help shape our thinking and what we, as a nation, seek to achieve this decade.”

Posnack said that while the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) of 2016 will continue to play a significant role in ONC work as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, health IT leaders also have a “remarkable opportunity to look ahead” at the beginning of a new decade.

He noted that 2030 serves as a “no later than” date for these potential health interoperability outcomes, meaning that some may occur before 2030.

However, by collecting input from health IT leaders about decade-long industry aspirations, ONC can take creative approaches to achieve these goals.

“Anyone who’s worked in this space knows that healthcare is full of humility,” Posnack said. “Often, what you think should be easy takes longer and is more complex than you expected. It turns out those policy issues have interdependent technology issues (and vice versa) and those workflow issues are intertwined with economic issues, and frequently it’s some combination or all of the above.”

“Equally, sometimes actions can happen in parallel while others require incremental, serial steps to make progress and gain momentum,” he continued. “When we know with certainty what we want to accomplish, what outcomes we seek to achieve, it frees us up to be a bit more creative about how we get there.”

While health IT professionals can express their interoperability outcomes in any format, ONC offered two templates for responses to the prompt: “’Because of interoperability, ____ before/by 2030,’” and “’Because of interoperability, before/by 2030 [who] will [what].’” All responses should include an outcome that could be measured for progress, Posnack noted.

In the post, Posnack gave the following examples; “Because of interoperability, faxes are no longer used in clinical care before/by 2030” and “Because of interoperability, before/by 2030 everyone that is part of a care team will have accurate, up-to-date clinical information prior to providing care.”

Participants can submit their responses at HealthIT.gov/HealthInterop2030 or on Twitter @ONC_HealthIT with #HealthInterop2030. ONC will accept submissions through July 30, 2021.

This program comes after the integration of ONC’s recent interoperability rule. On March 9, 2020, ONC officially released the next phase of the 21st Century Cures Act, which banned patient information blocking.

Since April 5, 2021, healthcare providers, certified health IT developers, and health information exchanges (HIEs) have been held to the Cures Act’s information blocking provisions put in place to enhance health interoperability.

“All health care stakeholders will benefit, including many of these types of participants in the form of more readily available EHI when and where it is needed most,” Posnack and Micky Tripathi, national coordinator for health information technology, wrote in an April ONC blog post.

“This final rule implements certain provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, including Conditions and Maintenance of Certification requirements for health information technology developers under the ONC Health IT Certification Program, the voluntary certification of health IT for use by pediatric health care providers, and reasonable and necessary activities that do not constitute information blocking,” the final rule stated.

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