ONC Releases 10-Year Vision to Achieve Interoperability in Health IT

  ONC Releases 10-Year Vision to Achieve Interoperability in    Health IT


“An Interoperable Health IT ecosystem makes the right data available to the right people at the right time”

June 17, 2014

A 10-Year Vision to Achieve Interoperability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently released a vision document to achieve Interoperability in HealthIT. Spread over 3, 6 and 10 years, the vision document highlights the pressing need to achieve interoperability among different Health IT systems. The complete report can be accessed from here.

The document speaks about the need for broad adoption of Health IT that will facilitate the sharing of Health information that is easy and secure. With an eye on all stakeholders, ONC has given a call asking clinicians, hospitals, public health, technology developers, payers, researchers, policymakers, individuals, and many others – to join ONC in figuring out how to collectively achieve interoperability across the health IT ecosystem.


The goal to achieve complete interoperability has been set for the year 2024. By aiming to make a flexible system that satisfies the need of consumers, the system has earmarked space for innovation as well. Translated to realistic terms – this should result in lower healthcare costs, better quality of care, better management of population health with increased consumer engagement and awareness.

“Individuals should be able to securely share electronic health information with care providers and make use of the information to support their own health and wellness through informed shared decision-making”, says the vision document. This is quite interesting because most of the talk on interoperability has been on the IT systems and very less attention has been paid to the individual. To what extent EHR companies commit changes to make patients feel comfortable is still unclear given the larger challenges EHR companies face in today’s competitive market.

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Guiding Principles

A set of guiding principles have been formulated for the future interoperable health IT ecosystem:

  • Build upon the existing health IT infrastructure
  • One size does not fit all
  • Empower individuals
  • Leverage the market
  • Simplify
  • Maintain modularity
  • Consider the current environment and support multiple levels of advancement
  • Focus on value
  • Protect privacy and security in all aspects of interoperability

Timeline Breakdown

A timeline has been drawn up breaking down the path to interoperability. The milestones have been placed at 3, 6 and 10 years. A quick look at what this means:

Five Critical Building Blocks

Five critical building blocks for a nationwide interoperable health information infrastructure have been listed as the focus areas to achieve interoperability:

  1. Core technical standards and functions

  2. Certification to support adoption and optimization of health IT products and services

  3. Privacy and security protections for health information

  4. Supportive business, clinical, cultural, and regulatory environments

  5. Rules of engagement and governance

The Road Ahead

The 10-year vision document to achieve interoperability in Health IT systems is a step in the right direction. Sustainable interoperability that fosters better sharing of information cannot be achieved overnight. All the stakeholders have to be taken along. The objective is to ensure the free flow of information and this requires cohesive and seamless coordination not only among payer, provider and patient but also among policy makers, Health IT companies and academicians.

Here is a quick checklist on the effectiveness of your current Interoperability solution:


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