It has been a long time coming but the wait is over: The ONC Final Interoperability Roadmap has now been released. The Interoperability Roadmap is intended to show healthcare organizations the path towards a fully interoperable health system, one which places the patient at the center of a system that offers real-time health data access by any patient and healthcare provider. The ultimate aim is to develop a healthcare system that offers better care, with smarter spending, and will lead to a population of healthier people.
The path laid down by the ONC Final Interoperability Roadmap will take 10 years; however, by 2024 healthcare services will be able to be provided to patients at a lower cost.
The ONC Final Interoperability Roadmap is ambitious. There is a considerable way to go, given the current problems with data access, in particular between healthcare providers. Many obstacles are currently in the way and they must be removed. One of the main aims of the roadmap is to get rid of those obstacles, and as such, the roadmap has a heavy emphasis on remove those barriers in the short term.
Previous drafts of the roadmap have broken down requirements into stages, and the final roadmap is no different. Goals have been set which must be reached at the 3 and 6-year marks, with the final milestone put in place at the finishing line in 2024.
The 3-year milestone in 2017 will involve putting the infrastructure in place that will allow health data to be found, sent and received by healthcare providers, using healthcare domains that will facilitate improvements in the quality of care that is provided to patients. Patient data access must also improve by 2017.
The next phase of the roadmap will see data sources expanded, as well as an increase in the number of users. The second phase should see major improvements made toward lowering the cost of healthcare provision. This is a big ask, but one that is achievable according to the ONC.
Of course, for that to happen, federally-recognized national standards must be introduced to ensure interoperability, and intentional information blocking must be stamped out. Patients must also be given greater access to their own healthcare data, which includes allowing them to share their health data with the healthcare provider of their choosing. Patients must be allowed to make their own decisions about their healthcare, according to the ONC. This should not be dictated by their healthcare provider.
According to Karen DeSalvo, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the ONC, “Data needs to be free……If we’re going to change the care model we need an information model to support it.”