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Health Data Integrity the Focus of ONC Innovation Challenge

A new ONC contest calls on innovators to develop health data provenance solutions to improve health data integrity in EHR systems and HIE databases.

ONC Innovator Challenge

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- ONC recently announced its new Health Data Provenance Challenge to address health data integrity at the point of care. As part of the contest, the federal agency is inviting participants to develop innovative solutions for determining the quality and reliability of clinical data.

Data provenance, or identifying information about data, is useful in establishing the ‘who, what, when, where, and how’ of data and information exchange.

As the healthcare industry becomes increasingly data-driven, health IT systems are using provenance data to find data errors and improve health data accuracy, patient safety, and patient health outcomes.

The federal agency’s challenge comprises two phases. Participants who succeed at meeting the requirements of the first phase will move on to the second part of the competition during which one team will receive the first place title and accompanying cash prize.  

With EHR adoption and use steadily on the rise, verifying the accuracy of health data is vital to ensuring only dependable, useful data exists in provider EHR systems and health IT infrastructure and circulates health information exchanges.

“In the past 10 years, electronic health record (EHR) adoption has become more widespread across the healthcare industry– today 96 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of office-based physicians use certified EHRs – thanks to an increased use of digital data and a greater capacity to exchange it nationwide,” stated ONC’s Director of Standards and Technology Steve Posnack, MS, MHS in a recent blog post.  “With this growth comes an increasing availability of digital health tools and growing demand among consumers who want to share their data with their providers, often referred to as patient-generated health data.”

In first phase of the challenge, participants are required to submit white papers outlining methods their team currently uses to identify the provenance of health data. Teams must then identify a problem they encounter in acquiring an optimal amount of provenance data, and outline a potential solution to this problem.

Four winners will receive $20,000 and move on to the second phase of the competition. Here, participants must create and test the health data provenance solutions described in Phase 1. The first place winners of Phase 2 will receive a cash prize of $60,000, and the second place team will receive $40,000.

Improving data provenance will help providers, patients, and data experts understand not only where certain information comes from but also whether it has been altered in any way during its journey from one provider or EHR system to another.

Standardization is one of the healthcare industry’s biggest priorities as information becomes increasingly digitized, and provenance data capturing is no exception.

 “The need for health data provenance, and standard approaches to capture it, is an important priority,” Posnack stated.

ONC will host webinars in the near future offering more information regarding challenge procedures and answering any potential participant questions.

The federal agency’s newest challenge follows two similar efforts to promote seamless, reliable health data exchange. Past efforts include the Move Health Data Forward Challenge, which sought solutions to improve health data exchange through application programming interfaces.

ONC also launched an EHR Use Experience Challenge to encourage innovators to create tools using the health IT standard FHIR and open APIs to ease health data interoperability and data access for patients and providers.

With its latest challenge set to begin, ONC continues its effort to tackle health data issues preventing the healthcare industry from optimized health data usage and exchange. 



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