EHR interoperability

ONC tool tracks work on health records interoperability

Those working on the interoperability of electronic health records have a new tool to help them keep tabs on projects taking place across the country.

The Interoperability Proving Ground is a simple, searchable open community platform that lists basic information for ongoing research projects. Users can contribute projects and investigate what peers are working on, with an eye to both collaboration and avoiding duplication of effort.

The app is the work of the Tech Lab, a new functional group in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT that is working to improve standards, support testing, utilities and interoperability pilots as well as promote innovation through challenges and work with startups.   The Interoperability Proving Ground is an example of the kind of lightweight, agile tools the Tech Lab wants to push to health IT community. The team built the new app in about four months, including a soft launch and usability testing.

Steve Posnack, Director of the ONC's Office of Standards and Technology, imagines the tool as a way to keep interoperability work going in between conferences, meetings and sessions of the ONC's Federal Advisory Council, which is tasked with improving the way commercial health records systems interact.

A lot of the work is "hidden in plain sight," Posnack told FCW, a sister site to GCN. "If you're in the right meeting, you hear about this cool initiative and if you're not, you never would have known that it existed."

When the ONC was launched in 2004, part of its job was making sure that industry settled on standards so that electronic health records could work together. According to Posnack, that effort is starting to take shape, which is why the time was ripe to aggregate and organize data around interoperability research.

"I think industry has mobilized itself in a different way in the past 12 to 18 months," he said, noting that the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard for the electronic exchange of health information is gaining momentum. "There's more interest in testing tools, infrastructure and pursuing pilots in a more agile and earnest way across the nation," Posnack said.

This article originally appeared in FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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