The 21st Century Cures Act tasked the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology with a herculean task: solve the interoperability puzzle.
One tool the agency is using to achieve that goal is the Interoperability Standards Advisory, a collection of standards and specifications. The ONC is accepting comments on the online edition until Nov. 20. The 2018 reference edition is expected to be released later this year.
Recently, the ONC made several changes to the ISA. In response to suggestions from the 2017 ISA Task Force and the Health IT Standards Committee, for instance, it added a section on how consumers can access and exchange health information. For all four related categories of consumer-oriented interoperability—including the ability to view, download and transmit electronic health record data and to exchange secure messages with providers—there is a single emerging implementation specification: HL7 Fast healthcare Interoperability Resources, otherwise known as FHIR (and pronounced as "fire").
"Each year we update the ISA, we are seeing more industry engagement, which is really encouraging," said Steven Posnack, the ONC's director of the office of standards and technology. "Based on public comments, we hope to continue to expand the ISA and anticipate getting feedback for more frequent and granular references to FHIR specifications."
FHIR, a framework for exchanging healthcare information, "shows promise as becoming a widely supported standard," according to the current ISA. Since it was introduced in 2014, FHIR has been tempting the industry with the promise of easier data exchange.