Posted By Monique Dever On December 18, 2014

A ten-year road trip for Meaningful Use. Where will it lead?

Interoperability has always been the long term goal for Electronic Health Record (EHR) use, but like most things, it is often better to start with the basic structure and grow into it. Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 1 implemented the basics of an EHR System using structured data capture and sharing, and now Stage 2 incorporates the use of clinical processes, such as electronic prescription and patient portals, for more advanced system use. So what’s in store for meaningful use 10 years from now?


The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released its vision and draft road map to establish proposed “rules of the road” so to speak, so that information and data can flow efficiently across multi-channel networks. They have invited stakeholders to join them in their goal of developing a defined, shared road map to achieve health IT interoperability based on five building blocks for a nationwide infrastructure:


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 implementation of standards in MU Stages 1 & 2 has made interoperability possible, but an expanding ecosystem will certainly play a huge role in how the final roadmap is structured. There continues to be an increasing number of new data sources, data users and of course new technologies that will have an impact on the long term goals and local health departments.


Health IT Ecosystem as the Learning Health ONC Interoperability Roadmap System

Health IT Ecosystem as the Learning Health ONC Interoperability Roadmap System

The ONC’s proposed interoperability goals include great expansions over the next ten years for population & public health, at both the community and state levels. Clinical and administrative data will be normalized and aggregated across communities, research communities will access this data for ongoing research, and public health departments and other clinical registries can receive and make available sets of standardized data for use by authorized users. By 2024, public health agencies will be poised to better able and proactively react to outbreaks and public disasters, at reduced costs, because of the multitude of input data sources and easy access to shared data.


For Public Health agencies (and private practices too) to participate in this goal, adoption of a certified EHR system must begin soon. Agencies who are already using an EHR system should evaluate their technology to see how interoperable it really is.  They should invest in a technology which is futuristic and aligns with this goal. And they should make sure it is certified as a “complete” not “modular” EHR.


For guidelines for selecting an EHR read “Five things to look for in an EHR to make it easy to get meaningful use incentive $s.


For more details, read the full ONC Interoperability Concept Paper.


About Monique Dever

Monique integrates research and networking with her passion for health and well-being to provide important, up-to-date news, resources and current events to the public health communities. She is the Marketing Executive for Patagonia Health, an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software company focused on the public health sector.