Electronic Health Records

Integration & Interoperability News

ONC Sets Up ‘Proving Ground’ for Health IT Interoperability

ONC is encouraging interoperability projects of all sizes to enter descriptions and tags into the IPG for public sharing.

By Frank Irving

- You can add IPG to the ever-growing lexicon of health IT interoperability acronyms and terms. It stands for Interoperability Proving Ground, a community platform for sharing short summaries of interoperability projects taking place across the country.

Steven Posnack, director of standards and policy at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), introduced the IPG on Feb. 24 in a Health IT Buzz blog post. He noted that the database is the first output of the ONC Tech Lab, which the agency announced earlier this week as a new approach to unifying healthcare data standards and technology initiatives.

“At ONC, we are focused on providing you with the chance to inspire colleagues, share experiences, and describe lessons learned when it comes to interoperability,” wrote Posnack. “We believe that doing so will maximize opportunities for collaboration, cooperation, and communication when it comes to: making it easier for patients to be an active member of their care team; enabling healthcare providers to send, receive, find and use health information when and where it is needed; and fostering a vibrant and innovative health IT ecosystem.”

ONC is encouraging interoperability projects of all sizes to enter descriptions, hyperlinks, and keyword or standards tags into the IPG for public sharing. The main IPG page, includes an “Add a Project” button and allows users to view either active or completed projects. It also features an interactive map, which displays the location of shared projects.

At the time of this article’s publication, the IPG contained 45 active entries from organizations such as the Argonaut Project, Sequoia Project, HHS Office of Population Affairs, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HL7 and several state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).

A few examples of projects tagged as complete:

  • Washington state’s Department of Health completed a project at the end of 2015 in which it connected to a state health information exchange (HIE) using the NCPDP PDMP standard. The project description notes that the department is seeking a trading partner to build upon existing infrastructure to connect an EHR system to the PDMP via the state HIE.
  • In a pilot completed in 2013, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs tested standards-based exchange, adjudication and enforcement of privacy consents as services in support of privacy-protected continuity-of-care document records.
  • The Primary Care Information Project within the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York State Department of Health used a query system to investigate and allocate resources for chronic and acute disease monitoring throughout the state. The goal was to incorporate essential technical and operational elements from the pilot project into the statewide health information exchange architecture. The project was completed in 2012.

ONC will be adding to the existing set of entries on an ongoing basis. Posnack also called for further participation from other federal agencies and the private sector “to showcase your interoperability work nationwide, connect with peers tackling interoperability issues, and make visible progress toward a future where we are all part of a learning health system.”