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HHS ONC Slates Interoperability Rule for Fall 2018

By Steven Porter  
   May 10, 2018

The tentative plan was outlined broadly as part of an item in the updated Unified Agenda.

The Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) signaled this week that it plans to publish a new certification rule this fall pertaining to data interoperability and related matters.

The plan, which is tentatively slated to be carried out in September, was outlined as part of an ONC item in the Trump administration's updated Unified Agenda released Wednesday.

  • What to expect: The rule is expected to address a number of health IT items, including certification requirements for developers, voluntary certification for pediatric healthcare providers, trusted exchange frameworks for network-to-network data exchange, information blocking, and other "complementary means" to advance certification and interoperability.
     
  • Opportunities: The pediatric healthcare item could be used to make electronic health records safer and more effective "for the youngest and often most vulnerable patients," pediatrician Josh Rising, MD, who directs healthcare programs for The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Ben Moscovitch, who manages Pew's health IT project, wrote in an opinion piece last month for The Hill.
     
  • Highly anticipated: Whether and how the rule addresses information blocking—which ONC defines as occurring when "persons or entities knowingly and unreasonably interfere with the exchange or use of electronic health information"—is likely to be one of the more closely watched elements of the rule.
     
  • Surprises possible: In a tweet, Moscovitch noted that it "[w]ill be interesting to see what those 'other complementary means' include."
     
  • Legal basis: The rulemaking process would aim to implement certain provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act.
     
  • Success stories: The HHS ONC is hosting an "Interoperability Proving Ground" platform where stakeholders can share their interoperability projects.

An earlier version of the plan had it slated to be carried out last month.

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.

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