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Sequoia Project Launches Health IT Interoperability Cooperative

The public-private health IT interoperability cooperative lead by the Sequoia Project will advance solutions to end information blocking.

A new health IT interoperability collaborative will identify barriers and solutions to health data exchange.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Sequoia Project recently announced the launch of a public-private health IT interoperability cooperative called Interoperability Matters.

The cooperative will primarily work to advance real-world solutions to end information blocking and improve interoperability.

Experts from the public and private sector will be invited to identify, prioritize, and collaborate on solutions to remaining challenges to seamless, nationwide health data exchange.

“The pipes to enable health information exchange have been laid by organizations like Carequality, CommonWell, DirectTrust, eHealth Exchange and health information exchange organizations (HIEs),” said The Sequoia Project CEO Mariann Yeager “However, there are remaining real and perceived barriers to making exchange more effective and seamless – but not for long.”

The Interoperability Matters Advisory Group will identify areas where nationwide health data exchange could improve and strategies for boosting interoperability. Subject matter experts and healthcare stakeholders across the private sector and government will form Interoperability Matters workgroups.

The Advisory Group will review the recommendations generated by the workgroups and provide feedback. Each workgroup will inform the Advisory Group of its progress through regular, virtual updates to gain consensus on recommendations.

With input from the Advisory Group, workgroups will share their recommendations for public comment to gain broader insight from all stakeholders affected by interoperability.

The workgroups recommendations will ultimately culminate in a consensus-built resource and plan of action for the healthcare sector to implement in an effort to minimize or eliminate remaining barriers to interoperability.

“Distinguishing legitimate policy differences from information blocking requires deep understanding of complex policy, technical and business issues,” said Yeager. “Our Interoperability Matters cooperative will focus on the practical implications of information sharing practices, and it will inform information blocking public policy.”

First, the Interoperability Matters forum plans to focus on information blocking in advance of the proposed information blocking regulations forthcoming from ONC.

Stakeholders including Health IT Now, AAFP, and AMIA have put pressure on ONC to publish clear information blocking regulations per provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act.

The regulations will define which activities by health IT companies do not constitute information blocking. While the rule was initially due for release in September, ONC has yet to publish regulations.

The Sequoia Project also formed a patient identity management workgroup before the development of Interoperability Matters that produced a plan of action similar to the plans Interoperability Matters hopes to develop.

The final recommendations from the patient identity management workgroup function as a list of minimally acceptable patient matching practices, as well as a patient matching maturity model.

The patient matching maturity model is designed to help healthcare organizations assess their current ability to accurately identify patients and provide a roadmap for methodically improving patient matching accuracy.

The resource also includes a case study and best practices for implementing and utilizing a patient matching framework.

The framework was developed in collaboration with the Care Connectivity Consortium after years of development and discussion with a diverse workgroup of stakeholders across the industry.

The workgroup included healthcare industry, academic, health IT standards, and federal government experts. Stakeholders convened over several years to devise commentary and final recommendations to improve patient identity matching.

Additional Interoperability Matters workgroups and their priorities will be identified toward the end of the month at the upcoming Sequoia Project Annual Meeting.

The Sequoia Project is a non-profit, public-private collaborative centered on promoting the implementation of secure, nationwide health data exchange and interoperability.

Sequoia also supports the Patient Unified Lookup Service for Emergencies (PULSE) and the RSNA Image Sharing Validation Program.

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