“Interoperability” is the watchword the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) uses in a recent proposal to underscore the smooth and secure flow of data among clinicians, researchers, and patents, that will be essential in improving patient care and education. The proposal, titled, “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Version 1.0,” was issued January 30.

Essentially, reports HHS, the Roadmap is the cornerstone of a data-driven approach to healthcare.

“HHS is working to achieve a better health care system with healthier patients, but to do that, we need to ensure that information is available both to consumers and their doctors,” says Sylvia M. Burwell, HHS secretary.

Burwell adds that significant progress has been made in digitizing data relative to the care experience, and at this point data must be made available so patients and providers can securely access their health information when and where they need it.

“A successful learning system relies on an interoperable health IT system where information can be collected, shared, and used to improve health, facilitate research, and inform clinical outcomes,” Burwell says. “This Roadmap explains what we can do over the next 3 years to get there,” she adds.

According to a statement from HHS, the draft Roadmap was designed in concert with the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020, and is based on a core set of building blocks the agency believes are needed to achieve interoperability:

  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; and
  5. Rules of engagement and governance.

The draft Roadmap and Standards Advisory are available for viewing at

[Source: US Department of Health and Human Services]