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ONC Moves on Sending Questions to the Data

by Wes Rishel  |  July 26, 2011  |  2 Comments

I am very proud of the  responses to my Send the Questions to the Data. They were thoughtful and fact-based contributions to the discussion.

Of course, the post was prompted by the buzz that ONC has been generating on this topic. The next shoe has dropped in Rich Elmore’s post Distributed Population Queries – A National Priority. It is equally significant to note that Rich has taken a leave of absence from AllScripts and is carrying an ONC business card while he works on this. In this post Rich announced the “summer concert series,” apparently an environmental scan designed to bring a common information base to interested parties.

This beast is obviously not a biped; Rich also announced that a third shoe will drop in September with the formation of Query Health under the S&I Framework. It is significant that Rich was a key player in the Direct Project, at the time a unique combination of a small investment in government time and money with a lot of volunteer work, organized by principles that have been successful in open source communities. These include

  1. all activities are open anyone can observe and follow through a public wiki
  2. those that are committed to implementations get to speak and influence the decisions
  3. rough consensus, running code, final specification
  4. a lack of formalized governance rules.

Query Health is different than the Direct Project in that it will be handled under the I&S Framework.

Although I hear the monthly briefings on the Framework I confess to being confused exactly what it is. It is easy to understand the projects that lead directly to meaningful use regulations but Query Health deals with an important scenario that may not find immediately available standard that have widespread use.

Maybe ONC wants a way to launch multiple projects with the representative participation, innovation and group dynamics of The Direct Project and yet still have a way to ensure that the purpose and work products of the individual products are well coordinated.

The twin goals of achieving spontaneity and innovation while achieving government-level coordination seem like an oxymoron. Rich will have his hands full. On the other hand, he is an able consensus builder with a great software background, and ONC  has walked the tightrope between innovation and the government regulatory apparatus better than any other government interop agency that I have ever seen.

I look forward to seeing the “fourth shoe drop” when the Query Health begins running with live patient data sometime soon.

Category: interoperability  vertical-industries  

Tags: direct-project  health-information-exchange  healthcare-interoperability  healthcare-providers  hie  meaningful-use  pcast-report  query-health  

Wes Rishel
VP Distinguished Analyst
12 years at Gartner
45 years IT industry

Wes Rishel is a vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner's healthcare provider research practice. He covers electronic medical records, interoperability, health information exchanges and the underlying technologies of healthcare IT, including application integration and standards. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on ONC Moves on Sending Questions to the Data

  1. Ross Martin says:

    Rick Elmore’s post about Query Health today sent me to your earlier post on this subject. Before I could add a late-to-the-party comment to bring it up, you posted this. Standardizing the query has been a long-time mantra of mine (See this old YouTube video on GELLO for an example).

    Note to Keith Boone – I agree with you GELLO isn’t necessarily the answer, but it seemed the closest thing at the time. Today, the work of the ONC SHARPn collaboration that Chris Chute from Mayo mentioned ( is bringing us much further toward the goal. Thanks for continuing to stoke the fires, Wes!

  2. Pete Gilbert says:

    Can you please explain why the system that holds the data should do the work for the requesting system? One does not typically build a system to do other people’s work for them.

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