October 4, 2021
Since the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a greater demand for interoperability in healthcare. Barriers to accessing medical information can present major obstacles in individual patient care, which can eventually cause greater issues in public health surveillance. Now, as new variants continue to arise and cases continue to increase, the need for data sharing is urgent. The flow of medical data should be seamless and as a result, the ONC is working with health IT stakeholders to develop two new health IT protocols to support greater interoperability for enhanced care coordination.
Under the guise of ONC’s 360X project, they are working to Integrate Health Care Enterprise (IHE) International profiles that leverage health IT standards. This allows for patient care transitions to be more efficient and less time consuming. The group worked on these care transitions, Ambulatory referrals, and acute/ambulatory transfers to skilled nursing facilities.
This year in particular, the group worked to enhance care transitions that were critically needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, ONC and its industry partners aimed to create an implementation guide supporting transfers of care from skilled nursing facilities to acute emergency departments.
In order to achieve efficient care coordination, patient data exchange is essential. The ambulatory referrals and acute/ambulatory transfers to skilled nursing facilities will enhance care coordination and will also benefit the clinical staff.
ONC is also working on a social determinants of health (SDOH) needs-based referrals use case. The goal of this project is to increase patient-centered care by improving access to SDOH data within health IT workflows. To do so, the group plans on closing the referral loop with social care entities.
The development will work on identifying coded data elements and associated value sets to represent SDOH screening, diagnosis, planning, and interventions in health IT systems.
The focuses of this project aligns closely with the Gravity Project, a community-led HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) Accelerator, founded by the University of California San Francisco’s Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN) in 2018. The project includes over 1,000 healthcare stakeholders, including academic and federal food insecurity experts, community-based organizations, payers, patients, providers, and health IT vendors.
With COVID-19, the Gravity Project’s work is more urgent than it ever has been before. Their recent publication regarding implementation and recommendation guides for SDOH data and terminology will be of tremendous assistance for food insecurity, housing instability and quality, and transportation access.
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