Health Language Blog

Release of 2017 ISA is Good News for Interoperability

Posted on 02/08/17


The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently released the 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA), an update to the 2016 version that holds great promise for advancing health information exchange. National Coordinator Vindell Washington hailed the release as “a key step toward achieving the goals” outlined in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and Interoperability Pledge announced earlier this year. Thus, the Interoperability theme continues as seen with the recent Cures Act and MIPS. Even HHS Secretary nominee Tom Price during his confirmation hearings stated that the federal government’s role “ought to be interoperability: to make sure the different systems can talk to each other so it inures to the benefit of the patient.”

A progressive move on the national front, the 2017 ISA further coordinates public and private sector efforts around a common goal for sharing health information to improve population health at the patient, community, and national level. The ISA catalogues key information about standards and implementation specifications—such as whether they are required by any federal programs or how widely they are used—to help enhance information sharing for key clinical data, including medication lists, problem and diagnosis, immunization records, and test results.

Highlights of new points include:

  • Personal Health Device, Nursing, Research, Nutritional Health, and Social Determinant interoperability needs
  • Better pairing between the standards for observations (questions) and standards for their answers
  • More focus on public health and health research interoperability

Health Language® (HL) already supports the many terminology standards listed including SNOMED CT, LOINC, RxNorm, ICD-10, Provider specialty taxonomies, CVX, MVX, NDC, and more. HL now also supports the Unique Device Identifier that is required for MU Stage 3. The value sets mentioned can be represented and maintained on our Code Group Manager application.

This new release promotes greater collaboration as an online platform where industry stakeholders can be involved in the process of influencing the ISA on an ongoing basis. This framework helps advance interoperability by keeping everyone on the same page and speaking the same language—further addressing an ongoing industry challenge around semantic interoperability and lack of a universal language for clinical, claims, and other patient data. Simply put, interoperability must mature to support semantic interoperability—or the ability to share information in a meaningful way—to lay the groundwork for impactful data analytics and population health initiatives that move the needle on outcomes, cost savings and greater patient engagement.

We applaud this latest industry achievement and will continue to align our efforts with the industry’s roadmap to improve the outlook on semantic interoperability. The reality is that health systems face notable challenges managing the vast amount of diagnoses and standards that exist in the industry today. Our Health Language enterprise terminology management platform equips hospitals, payers and IT vendors with the framework of automation and tools needed to normalize data across disparate systems and support clean capture of information for analytics, reporting, and population health initiatives.

Maintained on a central terminology server, Health Language solutions include a content database of more than 200 clinical terminologies and 790 value sets for satisfying multiple use cases, applications, and user groups. Because terminologies are always changing, we help health systems manage standard and custom terminologies by curating content and delivering updates in a standardized format that is easy to maintain. We also supplement standard terminology content with proprietary content such as “provider-friendly terminology” that helps EHRs optimize the provider experience while enhancing the precision of documentation and coding.

Make your comments below regarding the ISA update.

Topics: interoperability, government, ISA, Unique Device Identifier, ONC

About the Author

Dr. Brian Levy, MD is Vice President and Chief Medical Officer with Health Language, part of Wolters Kluwer Health. He holds an MD and BS from the University of Michigan. Go Blue!