On 9 February 2015, the Office of National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), released an interoperability roadmap – Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Draft Version 1.0. The draft roadmap proposes critical actions for both public and private stakeholders that will advance our nation towards an interoperable health IT ecosystem. Health IT that facilitates the secure, efficient, and effective sharing and use of electronic health information, when and where it is needed, is essential to better care, smarter spending, and a healthier nation.
The IJIS Institute commends the ONC for developing a comprehensive national vision and a shared interoperability roadmap. The publication of the health interoperability roadmap and the request for public comments is a great step forward in aligning interoperable standards for maximizing information sharing and we greatly appreciate this opportunity to comment.
The IJIS Institute has been leading a national effort on justice and health information sharing for several years and, based on this experience and lessons learned, recently provided written feedback on the ONC Roadmap. (See a copy of the IJIS Institute’s ONC Roadmap feedback attached to this blog post.) IJIS provided specific recommendations on Governance, Implementation, Business Alignment, Interoperability Standards, Security, Privacy, and Trust that promote a more holistic national approach utilizing interoperable information standards where clear intersection points exist in both the justice/public safety and health business domains.
While the draft roadmap may allude to linkages between health and criminal justice communities, there needs to be a more explicit discussion about interoperability between these two communities. As stated in the report published by the IJIS Institute in 2013, Opportunities for Information Sharing to Enhance Health and Public Safety Outcomes, A Report by the Criminal Justice and Health Collaboration Project, “Information sharing between the criminal justice and healthcare communities has the potential to enhance both public safety and health outcomes by reducing redundancies, enhancing continuity of care, and generating efficiencies in both domains.”
The IJIS Institute realizes the critical importance of having the right perspectives at the table when information sharing and interoperability is the end goal. We are actively engaged in the Standards Coordination Council (SCC), chartered under the White House’s Information Sharing and Access Policy Committee, to explore opportunities to further semantic interoperability with cross-domain applications being advanced by stakeholders that ONC should consider participating in and leveraging the shared assets across multiple Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and Industry bodies. SCC members are currently engaged in a national effort called Project Interoperability. The goal of Project Interoperability is to help government and the private sector identify a baseline of terms, standards, frameworks, tools, and techniques to create an information sharing network in mission-agnostic terms for any type of information sharing. IJIS Institute encourages ONC to align their interoperability framework with the framework/s identified as part of the Project Interoperability and, at the same time, leverage the lessons learned, best practices, and tool sets developed by the SCC community.
IJIS Institute is ready and willing to help ONC to identify and include the vital criminal justice component for cross mission interoperability. Information interoperability is critical because it increases timely information sharing, can reduce costs and redundancy, and leverage best practices–all steps to improve decision making for government leaders, industry, and citizens.