Bipartisan Report Promotes Testing Tools and Standards for Interoperability

Just in time for HIMSS 18, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Health IT Now have published a new report, The Future Role of Government in Health Information Technology and Digital Health, that assess efforts to date by the federal government to improve health IT. The National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. Don Rucker, spoke this week at an event organized around the release of that report. We at AEGIS see loud echos in this report of the message we’ve worked for years to convey. Here is an excerpt:

“Although the federal government has taken many steps to increase interoperability, to date there has been only limited progress. Key consensus themes regarding needed actions include the following:

  • Reliance on private-sector leadership and standards;
  • Robust testing; …
  • Measurement of interoperability levels and progress; …”

Standards from organizations including IHE and HL7 are key to interoperability success. In particular, HL7’s FHIR standard is gaining ground but without even more support from governments and industry it’s at risk of suffering the same fate as other standards which have sought to ease integration among systems, level playing fields for innovation. and most importantly improve care quality – only to be side-tracked by various forces. Tools like AEGIS’ Touchstone for FHIR directly support several of the action items named in the report including:

  • The federal government should encourage enhanced private sector interoperability testing and improved testing tools.
  • Consistent with 21st Century Cures Act requirements, the federal government should measure the extent of and progress on interoperability across the care continuum, using valid and reliable private sector-developed consensus measures that involve minimal burdens for providers and developers.
  • The federal government should recognize and incentivize the adoption of standards designed to improve matching of patient data across systems, which is a critical element of effective interoperability.

AEGIS’ Touchstone supports all of these recommendations today. We’re advancing our testing tool ecosystem to provide even more support, including a private sector alternative to government certification programs for conformance to health IT standards (or lack thereof). Watch this space for more on that in the weeks ahead….

We are gratified to see the attention that this report places on the capabilities of the private sector to help advance interoperability through improved testing tools and independent assessments. As we frequently point out, ensuring interoperability isn’t enough – we need continuous interoperability and the technology is already here for helping developers make it happen and helping decision makers in the provider, payer, and supplier communities buy systems that prove their commitment to continuous interoperability. We look forward to conversations on this topic next week at HIMSS 18 in Las Vegas. Track down Sandy Vance, our Director of Healthcare Interoperbility (@SandyVanceMHA) and Richard Ettema (@TechKnowMan) who is driving our platform innovations in this space. They will be at HIMSS all week!


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