Monday, December 13, 2010

The Standards Work Ahead

In past years, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has been called the Office of No Christmas (ONC) because of the pace of the year-round effort, especially December/January deadlines.     At the October HIT Standards Committee meeting, one public commenter was concerned that the pace of work on standards would slow down over the holidays.   Although it is vitally important that we all take time with our families and that we recharge for the new year ahead, I can assure you that standards efforts are not slowing down!

Here are a few of the issues we are addressing in December and January.

1.  Evaluation of the Direct Project (formerly called NHIN Direct) -   During December, we'll evaluate the Direct Project to determine if it has met its goals of being simple, direct, scalable and secure:

Simple means it is responsive to the Implementation Workgroup's guidelines which include ease of implementation, concern for the "little guy," and recognition of the fact that the development community is broad and diverse.

Direct means the transport of content from a sender to a receiver, with no content-aware intermediary services.

Scalable means the ability to support increasing workload and to adapt to new exchange models.

Secure means minimizing confidentiality, integrity, and availability risk to the content being transported.

2.  Review of the PCAST Report  - although ONC and CMS are likely to create tiger teams of expert members to make recommendations, the HIT Standards  Committee will review the history and intent of report.

3.  Review of the priorities suggested for the first application of new Standards and Interoperability framework.   Take a look at the FACA blog  for details of the projects being considered.

4.   Begin work on the Policy Committee's requests on certificates and directories.   Regarding certificates, the request from the Policy Committee is

"ONC, through the Standards Committee, should select or specify standards for digital certificates (including data fields) in order to promote interoperability among health care organizations"

Although we have not yet received a request to review the HIT Policy Committee's Provider Directory work, it's likely we'll be asked about standards for Entity Level Provider Directories (ELPD) which are a yellow pages for provider organizations and Individual Level Provider Directories (ILPD) which are a white pages for lookup of individuals to identify their organizational affiliations such that the yellow pages can be used for routing.

5.   Begin work on device standards - Our Vocabulary workgroup has a special interest in the content and vocabulary standards that will ensure home care devices (from pedometers, blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, pulse oximeters, etc) can transmit data in an interoperable format to EHRs and PHRs.

At the HIT Standards Committee December 17 meeting (which I'll blog about on Friday instead of a Cool Technology of the Week), you'll hear about our plans for January hearings on early experiences with the implementation of certified EHR technology/meaningful use of those technologies.   You'll hear about our plans to begin hearings on medical device standards including the FDA's work on unique device identification and content/vocabulary standards for home care devices.   We'll discuss the Standards and Interoperability framework priorities.  We'll begin the PCAST review.

As you can see from the five December/January goals above and our December 17 agenda, we're sustaining the momentum!
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