Like Policy Committee, Health IT Standards Committee Reorganizing

April 24, 2014
On April 24, the Health IT Standards Committee discussed the evolution of its workgroup structure, in part to facilitate more cross-pollination with the Policy Committee. At the same meeting, ONC announced that Jacob Reider, M.D., will succeed Jonathan Perlin, M.D., as chair of the committee.

On April 14, the federal Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC) discussed its new work plan that would reorganize the committee into four new workgroups. On April 24, the Health IT Standards Committee (HITSC) discussed the evolution of its workgroup structure, in part to facilitate more cross-pollination with the Policy Committee. National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, M.D., led off the meeting by announcing that Jonathan Perlin, M.D., is stepping down as chair of the committee. (Besides his role as chief medical officer at Hospital Corporation of America, Perlin was recently named the next chair of the American Hospital Association.) ONC’s Jacob Reider, M.D., who last year served as interim national coordinator, will become the committee chair, and John Halamka, M.D., will remain vice chair.

As Jeff Smith, CHIME’s director of public policy, reported for Healthcare Informatics on April 14, ONC asked the Health IT Policy Committee to consider a new work plan that would reform several workgroups for future policy development. Smith wrote that this move signals that ONC is looking to “pivot” away from the era of meaningful use and the HITECH program, choosing to focus its standards and certification authority on healthcare reform, patient safety and EHR usability.

The HITPC’s new work plan includes the formation of four workgroups, across which, experts in privacy/security and patient engagement would contribute.

The new HITPC workgroups are:

  • HIT Strategic Planning
  • Advanced Health Models & Meaningful Use
  • HIT Implementation, Usability & Safety
  • Interoperability & Health Information Exchange

At the April 24 Standards Committee meeting, ONC Chief Science Officer Doug Fridsma, M.D., Ph.D., described a new HITSC workgroup structure as a “matrixed organization” with a steering committee triaging and guiding work to teams focused on vocabulary, data structure, transport, security and services. “This is going to require support from ONC to distribute the work and create the integration we need,” he said.

Fridsma gave as an example patient-generated health data. The steering committee would identify what problems need to be solved. It might decide the issue should first go to the documentation and data structure work group. Fridsma said HITSC members would be identified to participate in HITPC workgroups and vice versa, with the hope that cross-membership would help ensure continuity across committees.

Several committee members, including David McCallie Jr. of Cerner Corp., mentioned that the matrix structure runs the risk of not emphasizing use cases enough and putting experts in narrow horizontal silos. Halamka said the hope was that the majority of use cases could be parceled out among the work groups identified and that several suggestions of the committee would be included in the new workgroup formation.

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