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ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap: Keeping the Focus Where It Counts

October 19, 2015

October 7th was a hallmark day for health IT – with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publishing its Meaningful Use stage 3 final rule and Certification final rule, as well as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology releasing the final version of its Interoperability Roadmap.

Given the role Surescripts plays in health IT, we were particularly interested to review the ONC Roadmap. With private sector partnerships and mutual accountability being two of the main drivers of success, as noted by National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D., the Roadmap provides a guide for both the private and public sectors to create an interoperable health IT ecosystem over the next 10 years. An interoperable healthcare system is a must in order to have a complete, digital picture of a patient’s health. At Surescripts, we applaud the government for putting a framework in place to achieve interoperability, but we also support the need for swift industry action.

At Surescripts, working with our industry partners to connect disparate entities and enable health information exchange is central to everything we do. The Roadmap reaffirms the direction that we’ve been heading for years. From our experience with e-prescribing, we know that interoperability and data exchange across stakeholder boundaries is not only possible, but it has been a reality for many years. Now is the time to apply the lessons learned in e-prescribing to broader health information exchange.

While Meaningful Use has spurred provider EHR adoption in recent years, the increasing frustration around the lack of interoperability and availability of health data has been palpable.

With a focus on valued clinical use cases, combined with reduced thresholds and extended time periods for reporting, we believe the Roadmap provides industry with greater opportunity and flexibility. However, more work is needed to help drive provider utilization, align disparate interests around data sharing, and ensure the right clinical information gets to the right provider, at the right time to provide healthcare services, and in a secure manner. To that end, technology vendors must remain diligent in developing tools that enable the meaningful exchange of health information, while making it easier for providers to adopt these technologies, in order to enact real change.

The Roadmap itself is not the be-all end-all driver of interoperability. It is important for the government to continue to engage the industry and collect feedback from providers and technology vendors to ensure the pace and volume of change truly advances interoperability. As Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in her announcement, "great progress has been made to digitize the care experience, and now it's time to free up this data so patients and providers can securely access their health information when and where they need it.”

With the final version of the Roadmap, the federal government has put the emphasis exactly where it needs to be -- on the meaningful exchange of health information. We encourage providers, pharmacists, payors, technology vendors and patients to each remain engaged in a collaborative dialogue and collective action to achieve the primary goal of improving patient care through industry interoperability.

In the spirit of collaboration and action, we would very much like to hear your thoughts on the ONC Roadmap.  Feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to us on Twitter at @Surescripts.

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