Adapting to the Standard Development Community: The new cycle of standard version development process

As part of ONC’s ongoing task of coordinating across federal and industry stakeholders, we decided that it was necessary to adjust our Standards Version Advancement Process (SVAP) timeline. Although it may seem that this process has been around for a while, it is still brand new and we have been looking at ways we can optimize how the process aligns with other standard development work in the community. The changes we have made will help ensure timely publication of implementation specifications that are central to our cadence for new versions of the USCDI.

Back in 2020, as part of the ONC Cures Act Final Rule, ONC established an annual Standards Version Advancement Process to enable healthcare IT developers in the ONC Health IT certification program to voluntarily update their products to incorporate national coordinators. approved, newer versions of adopted standards and implementation specifications. This supports certified healthcare IT developers and enables them to adopt and implement newer standard versions and support their clinical clients in nationwide, interoperable healthcare information exchange through this ongoing, collaborative process.

While the standard society has enthusiastically supported the SVAP concept, its application in the real world is new. ONC’s Health IT certification program includes dozens of standards developed by several organizations with their own standard development activities and timelines. In addition, ONC has completed the first new version of the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) version 2 and initiated the process to identify USCDI version 3.

New SVAP timeline

As stated by HL7, newer versions of the US Core Implementation Guide that support the latest version of the USCDI are scheduled for release in March of the following year. We expect this cadence of standard development activity to continue in the coming years, so starting with the current SVAP and continuing in the coming years, ONC will announce approved standards for SVAP in June each year and expect them to enter into force for use in the certification program in August year. The June SVAP announcement and the entry into force date for August will be supported by a comment period from January to May each year.

Adapting to the Standard Development Community: The new cycle of standard version development processSwitch to Current SVAP

The most immediate change for the public to note is that the current SVAP comment period, which is due to expire on September 30, was extended to May 2, 2022. In addition, the announcement of the next version of approved standards for SVAP will be delayed with approx. 6 months, from January 2022 to June 2022. We do not expect this to cause any delays in the implementation of healthcare IT developers, but the extra time will rather benefit in further maturation of the implementation specifications through further testing and pilot activities.

Minor changes to the naming convention for future SVAP

We had previously named SVAP releases (e.g. approved standards for 2020) based on the year in which the comments were received, even though the SVAP announcement itself was made the following year.

With the updated timeline, and as the entire SVAP process is completed within the same calendar year, we have taken the opportunity to reset the naming convention to match the year in which SVAP is approved by the national coordinator. Therefore, the next release of standards approved via SVAP will be named as “Approved Standards for 2022” instead of 2021. (We expect a future “trivia quiz” question about missing SVAP release for 2021!)

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