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Monday, January 23, 2012

On Principles for Federal Engagement in Standards Activities to Address National Priorities

The following showed up in my inbox this morning.

In general, I think this is great policy advice, especially the section on Agency Responsibilities starting at the bottom of page 3.

What I'd liked to emphasize is this statement found on the middle of page 2:
To accomplish these objectives, the Federal Government, as directed by Congress, is taking a convening role to accelerate standards development, by working closely with domestic and international private sector standards organizations.
I work closely with SDOs, and I know what it means to do so.  I cannot give the Federal Government high marks here, although I have to admit that they've gotten better over the last year.  If they mean to sustain the good work going on in the S&I Framework activities, they'll have to do better.   The S&I  contracts will end, and that means someone will have to maintain the outputs.

I hope we won't have another situation like the one where HITSP wound up orphaning documents that were the result of more than 100,000 hours of community expertise.  We really do need to figure out how to get to level 5 in this country.


  1. Absolutely right Keith. We have federal elections every two years, but even if all incumbents were not re-elected, we'd still have the continuity of the laws previously passed. That provides for stability and order and avoids going backward. Even though new laws and amendments are always being created, existing work is not orphaned. I really hope that "succession planning" occurs so that we don't have a repeat of the discontinuity that you mentioned. Fortunately, it has not been as bad as it could have been since some volunteers and contractors have remained engaged across administrations and have evolved some of the previous body of work.

  2. I also agree, Keith. Involvement of Government in the process of creating/adopting domestic standards is, in my view, a necessary ingredient of LEADERSHIP. As we all know, it is incredibly difficult to cohese private sector initiatives towards a harmonized objective, and I'm pretty sure that government provides the most effective and expedient method of doing that. However, sustainability remains the elephant in the room... government involvement will ebb and flow based on political imperatives... that's a fact of life. Sustaining the creation and adoption of domestic standards is a long-term prospect, and essential to success in ensuring the semantic interoperability of healthcare information across the patient-provider-time-continuum.

    As you know, we've been struggling with the same issue in Canada. Government is certainly providing leadership (through Infoway), but the funding honeymoon is almost over, leaving the solutions to ongoing sustainability up to the "industry". Time will tell how well your northern neighbor will succeed in this endeavor.