Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a plan entitled, “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A 10-Year Vision to Achieve an Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure.”  ONC explained that the release of the plan “is an invitation to health IT stakeholders – clinicians, hospitals, public health, technology developers, payers, researchers, policymakers, individuals, and many others – to join ONC in figuring out how we can collectively achieve interoperability across the health IT ecosystem.”

The Interoperability Plan includes three-, six- and ten-year agendas:

  • Three-Year Agenda: “Send, Receive, Find, and Use Health Information to Improve Health Care Quality.”  ONC explains that this agenda involves “improving the interoperability of existing health information networks, and scaling existing approaches for fluidly exchanging health information across vendor platforms” to ensure that information can flow through the health care system.  Health IT areas that may be the focus of this agenda include query-based health information exchange, data quality and reliability, and privacy and security.
  • Six-Year Agenda: “Use Information to Improve Health Care Quality and Lower Cost.”  ONC outlines how it expects Health IT interoperability to increase over the next six years, and describes plans to “work with stakeholders to refine standards, policies, and services to automate the continuous quality improvement process and deliver targeted clinical decision support that fits into a clinician’s workflow to close care gaps and improve the quality and efficiency of care.”
  • Ten-Year Agenda: “The Learning Health System.”  ONC explains that it expects the use of Health IT to support better health care through improved information aggregation and sharing at all levels of the health care system within the next ten years, including among researchers and entities responsible for public health surveillance.

To advance the ten-year plan, ONC will focus on five “building blocks for a nationwide interoperable health information infrastructure:”

  1. Core technical standards and functions
  2. Certification to support adoption and optimization of health IT products and services
  3. Privacy and security protections for health information
  4. Supportive business, clinical, cultural, and regulatory environments
  5. Rules of engagement and governance