Positive Steps Forward for Nationwide Interoperability

Dr. Doug Fridsma | April 13, 2011

Last week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) celebrated another milestone in the journey toward nationwide interoperable health information exchange. Last Wednesday’s announcement from the Care Connectivity Consortium represents an important step that some of our nation’s largest health care providers are taking in supporting optimal patient care through health information technology.

Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, and Group Health Cooperative have come together and developed a plan to share electronic health information among their systems. The goal of this project is to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of their respective patients’ medical care. This partnership aligns well with ONC’s strategy to facilitate the development of solutions to health information exchange challenges that are workable, scalable, and improve patient care. We applaud their commitment to using national standards for interoperability.

This is an excellent example of work being done in a diverse “ecosystem” for health information exchange. In order to achieve nationwide interoperability, we need the public and private sectors to collaborate around common challenges that will rapidly advance the work of standards and specifications development. Government can serve as a “platform” for innovation, leveraging a national perspective that facilitates innovative approaches to solving common problems. We hope to spur an open and transparent process for standards and specifications development through the Standards and Interoperability Framework in which organizations such as the Care Connectivity Consortium can provide leadership, expertise, and pilots. The work that the Consortium is doing fits well within that model, and their work will certainly have a significant effect on our developing high-quality, testable, modular, and simple implementation and testing specifications.

We are excited the Consortium is taking a leadership role in helping ONC build a path to nationwide interoperability, and look forward to collaborating with them on solving the nation’s key interoperability challenges.