Health IT

HIMSS pitches an updated definition of interoperability

HIMSS’ new proposed definition is currently open for a public comment period which ends March 30.

HIMSS has proposed an update to its definition of interoperability which adds operational data exchange as part of its description, taking into account the policy, social and organizational components to ensuring connections between systems across different silos.

The previous version of the interoperability definition – which was approved in 2013 – encompassed only foundational, structural and semantic data exchange.

These are largely technical components of exchanging information including inter-connectivity requirements, message format standards and codification of data.

Operational interoperability as defined by HIMSS “encompasses the technical components as well as clear policy, social and organizational components. These components facilitate the secure, seamless and timely communication and use of data within and between organizations and individuals.”

The focus on “non-technical considerations” of interoperability speaks to the importance of workflow integration and non-technical decision-making and data sharing infrastructure to actually effectively sharing information across borders.

The definition also includes an understanding that “(s)ystems participating in information exchange do so with varying degrees of interoperability.”

However, “(o)ptimally, interoperability facilitates connections and integrations across these systems to occur regardless of the data’s origin or destination or the applications employed, and ensures the data are usable and readily available to share without additional intervention by the end user.”

This portion was added to help expand the idea of interoperability as an international effort that works across geographic as well as operational borders.

The new proposed definition comes after the release of new interoperability rules from CMS and ONC which established a framework to require data exchange among healthcare stakeholders, and potential penalties if they are not followed

HIMSS’ new proposed definition is currently open for a public comment period which ends March 30.

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