Standards & Interoperability (S&I) Framework

The work promoting the adoption and uptake of health information technology is key to ensuring the goals of the HITECH Act of 2009. Work being done to ensure the technical standards and specifications are in place to support this technology is also critical to the development and success of a fully functional nationwide health IT ecosystem.

As with the technology that people use everyday – telephone, email, Internet, mobile technology – interoperable health information exchange is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Different providers will have different uses, and the standards and specifications supporting those needs are being developed and harmonized within ONC’s Office of Science & Technology (OST).Categories of Standards

ONC is working to standardize the following, fundamental building blocks of interoperability:

  • Health care vocabularies
  • Structures as specified by HL7
  • Transport, using secure email protocols
  • Security, through the use of NIST-adopted encryption standards
  • Services, with open and accessible APIs

ONC is working to enable the health IT community to convene and rapidly prioritize health IT challenges and subsequently develop and harmonize standards, specifications and implementation guidance to solve those challenges. ONC is also responsible for curating the set of standards and specifications that support interoperability and ensuring that they can be assembled into solutions for a variety of health information exchange scenarios.

ONC Tech LabFor more information about ONC’s work in standards development and harmonization, please visit