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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The ONC Interoperability Framework

Below are the 10 contracts that John Halamka mentions in his post on the ONC Interoperability Framework

Items in green have been awarded, and the link will take you to the award announcement or press release.  Items in red have not been awarded, but the link will take you to the announcement.  Items in black I have no news on.  The invisible 11th item that John mentioned I also have no news on.
If you have any updates on this, just enter a comment below, or Contact me via e-mail.  Come back periodically to see how things change.  I'll try to tweet any updates.

In the meantime, here is what I want to know about the ONC Interoperability Framework:
  1. Who will determine use cases, and how will experts from the healthcare industry be engaged in sketching out the use cases? 
  2. How much of the use case development will come from public input? 
  3. Will use case developers be available to discuss their thoughts and intentions with downstream users of these deliverables?
  4. How will vendors, providers, Standards and profiling organizations be engaged in the standards harminization process?
  5. For standards development, how will ONC ensure that public input is available EARLY in design processes before proposed standards are discussed with SDOs?  Prior experience with contracted standards effort shows that unless a concerted effort is made to incorporate public input on design and architecture BEFORE text is written leads to results that are difficult to change after significant writing is accomplished.
  6. I've got a lot of questions about interoperability specifications, but those most important ones are what has ONC learned about the mistakes that HITSP made in the past, and how will these be addressed?  Most notable of these is how will ONC make it easier for implementers to implement without having to peal the onion, and how will this effort be coordinated with tools and the standards repository?
  7. On Reference implementations, I want ONC to tell me how they will ensure that implementors will be engaged in the specification development alongside industry, without needless barriers.
  8. I'd also like to understand what policies will be put into place on reference implementations for use.  My tax dollars are paying for this, I want the code to be freely available to all, but I don't want it to be made available in a way that it cannot be used commercially either.
  9. For integration testing, I'd like to understand how the integration testing process and feedback from it will be incorporated into the specification development, standards and harmonization processes?
  10. Like John Moehrke, I too am concerned about Reuse and legacy, but I want to the put the question in terms of cost and value.  What processes will ONC put into place to establish the value and cost of change?  HITSP had a "cost" column in its assessment of standards, but that issue was never addressed in the HITSP process.  It had been in the original intent of the HITSP Tier 2 standards selection process to evaluate this, but because it was never included, it was never discussed.  This will be a hot button issue, and not addressing it openly and transparently will hamper harmonization or development efforts.  It's a tricky issue to address, but it needs to be done and done well.
  11. Coordinating 11 different contracts will be no easy task.  What processes will ONC put into place to ensure that they do not become the bottleneck in communications, and how will they ensure that open  and transparent discussions can be had among all participants?  If you want agile development, you will need to enable agile processes, and that also means agile communications.
  12. Finally, how will people like me, others in the healthcare provider sector, who have been engaged in standardization efforts over the last decade (or longer for others) be able to participate in this processes?

Monday Morning Update:
Erik Pupo provided more information below, which I was able to verify and add links for.

Dr. Doug Fridsma will be discussing the ONC Standards and Interoperability Framwork today at 11:30 Eastern on the HIT Standards call.

His presentation also appears below:


  1. Reference Implementation and NHIN Demonstrations and Emergent Pilots was awarded to Lockheed Martin

    Integration Testing was awarded to Stanley/Nitor/Aegis

    Interoperability Specifications was awarded to Deloitte.

    The only 2 remaining to be awarded are Use Cases and NHIN Architecture

  2. Sorry I meant to say Specifications Factory (harmonization) was awarded to Deloitte

  3. Keith, also the "11th" is Certification, which is coming out soon.