ONC will test population health query standards and model in New York

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will test in New York its standards and services for electronic and distributed population health queries.

The Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will test the standards and a reference model for the Query Health project with the New York State Department of Public Health in a pilot to expand population health monitoring, according to Rich Elmore, ONC coordinator for the Query Health initiative.

PCIP, which supports the adoption of health IT among primary care providers who tend to the city's underserved populations, will use the Query Health standards and reference implementation to expand its population health monitoring network to encompass citywide health information exchange coverage of inpatient and outpatient encounters.

“Distributed population queries are being used today to support a better understanding of disease outbreaks, the reaction of patients to drugs once they’re in the market, quality measures, performance measures, comparative effectiveness research and just about any other kind of aggregate population questions you can imagine,” Elmore said.

Currently, when health researchers develop questions about a population, they generally manually submit them to provider organizations, which then employ technical teams to produce reports.

With Query Health, questions can be delivered in a format that will be interpreted automatically by an electronic health record or other health IT system, which will generate a report with the answer.

For example, a query can encompass a set of questions that include counts, quality measures and medication categories to support a cluster analysis of diabetes.

In September, ONC launched Query Health based on the contributions of 100 organizations to identify standards and services to enable providers to send information requests and questions about population health to a variety of places where it is held, primarily certified EHRs.

Providers will distribute their requests through network data partners, who will then deliver the query through a standard clinical information model and then securely return the results to the requester.

Questions can be sent to different types of data sources, such as providers’ EHRs, payers’ clinical records, personal health records and health information exchanges. The aggregated results do not share patient-level data.

Before coming to ONC in 2009, Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national health IT coordinator, led PCIP, at a time when in three of New York City’s most underserved communities more than 1,000 providers went live with EHR systems in one year.

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