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Monday, August 24, 2009

I need a new Joke

Today I sat in an hour long presentation from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) in the HITSP Leadership meeting. This meeting is in preparation for the HITSP Face to Face meeting being held this week in the Chicago area. The focus of discussion was on the requirements for exchange of Consumer Preferences that HITSP will be addressing later this year.

I've been greatly impressed with the approach that ONC has been taking in the development of these requirements. If they continue in this vein, I'm going to have to repurpose my rather old joke about needing an office to coordinate those activities nationally. I think I might begin directing it elsewhere (e.g., you should probably be talking to the ...).

Today's meeting was with Dr. Carol Bean, the Acting Director of the Office of Interoperability and Standards (OIS), and Jodi Daniel, Director of the soon to be restructured Office of Policy and Research (OPR).

The process that I'm seeing being used for development of these requirements is much closer to what I see commonly used in Software development processes. It has much closer collaborations between the groups involved in the development of requirements (ONC), designs (HITSP), implementation (NHIN) and verification and validation (certification and testing). I don't expect all of the information barriers to be broken down immediately.

What I was most appreciative in today's meeting was the introduction of Policy issues into the discussion. About a third of the time was spend on the policy issues, and the ramifications of policy on technology and visa versa. This is a very refreshing approach, because we've typically avoided these issues in the past given that we have no way to get input. Jodi acknowledged that while these are not directly related, we can certainly better understand the requirements and scope of the needed technology if we have some ideas about the direction that policy is headed.

The meeting closed with a great deal of feedback being given to, and being heard by ONC. I saw quite a bit of note-taking by the ONC representatives while others were speaking. I also saw and heard how the ONC staff responded to the messages that were being communicated to them.

This is beginning to be a two way communication channel, instead of just being an obscure way to pipe my output to /dev/nul.


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