The Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC) recommends national policy decisions to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology. These include new standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria relating to the implementation of a health information technology infrastructure and data exchange. Caraballo said HITAC recently included three new imaging data elements for the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) standardized set of health data classifications.
She said this is important because the USCDI provides the baseline for interoperability for all health IT systems. It shows that imaging is now gaining recognition as a field that needs more interoperability, as images from across the enterprise are being connected to EMRs for more complete patient records.
"It is really exciting because the USCDI is the base for all IT standards, so imaging is being brought forward as a central data element for consideration," Caraballo explained.
She said radiology groups like the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) have led the way to help push for establishing standardization in medical imaging IT for the past 20 years through the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) radiology domain.
She said it is interesting that the new USCDI imaging standards are designed for health IT systems across the board, not just specifically for radiology PACS, so it signals that there is a growing need to incorporate better interoperability for imaging across enterprise EMR systems.
"This seems like a big one to me, as it is more mature because RSNA has done a good job of spearheading this work. There is still work to be done, but identifying on a national level the need for a broad exchange around imaging is really exciting," she said.
She said another area health IT leaders are talking about that will have an impact on data exchange is the Trusted Exchange Framework Common Agreement (TEFCA). Included in the 2016 21st Century Cures Act, it establishes a rules-of-the-road for technical infrastructure model IT governance for different health information networks and their users to securely share clinical information with each other across the U.S.
"All of our hospitals are going to be required to join this network, which will be a way to scale and exchange data in a very secure way. So I am really looking forward to seeing what comes out of that as it is rolled out," Caraballo said.