ONC Streamlines Communication On Healthcare IT Standards

Over the last year, healthcare systems around the world have been pushed to the limits, causing countries to speed up the adoption of digital health technologies. During the height of the pandemic, virtual care and telehealth usage soared, with 60% of patients surveyed saying that would like to continue to use technology for communicating with healthcare providers and managing their conditions.

In order to keep the trend moving forward, healthcare providers need to stay updated on healthcare IT standards and regulations. With that in mind, the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology (ONC) has released its first Standards Bulletin. The tool is part of the agency’s efforts to promote the adoption and use of health IT standards, and this first bulletin covers the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) and the Standards-Version Advancement Process (SVAP).

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“The USCDI Draft v2 is the result of wide-ranging public input into the elements that should be included to enhance the interoperability of health data for patients, providers, and other users,” according to the report. “Under the SVAP, health IT developers can incorporate newer versions of health IT standards and implementation specifications used in certified health IT and update systems for their customers without undergoing certification testing again.”

Established in 2004, the ONC works to help providers implement digital health technology that can result in better patient outcomes and reduce administrative burden, as well as enable patients’ access to their health data. The agency also just announced the launch of the Synthetic Health Data Challenge (Challenge). Synthetic health data is realistic health record data that includes a complete sample medical history from birth to death. That information can then be used to assist researchers and developers during the testing of the effectiveness of tools, algorithms, and disease modeling approaches.

The Challenge, part of ONC's Synthetic Health Data Generation to Accelerate Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) project, is asking participants to create and test innovative and novel solutions that will further cultivate the capabilities of Synthea, an open-source synthetic patient generator that models the medical histories of synthetic patients.

With a more efficient way for health care providers to access new standards and best practices for health IT, the use of initiatives such as these will become more widespread, allowing for faster and more secure ways of sharing and utilizing health-related data.