As part of the ONC’s ongoing task of coordinating federal and industry stakeholders, we identified the need to adjust our schedule for the Standard Version Progress Process (SVAP). While it seems like this process has been around for a while, it is still brand new and we have been looking for ways to align the process with other standards development work in the community. The changes we are making will help ensure the timely release of implementation specifications that are central to our cadence for new versions of USCDI.
Already in 2020, as part of the Final Rule of the ONC Cures Act, ONC has established an annual standard version advancement process that enables health IT developers in the ONC Health IT certification program to voluntarily update their products to incorporate newer versions of the adopted standards and implementation specifications approved by the national coordinators. This supports certified health IT developers and enables them to adopt and implement newer standard versions and to support their clinical customers in the nationwide, interoperable exchange of health information via this ongoing, collaborative process.
While the standards community has enthusiastically supported the SVAP concept, its practical application is new. ONC’s Health IT Certification Program includes dozens of standards developed by numerous organizations with their own standards development activities and schedules. In addition, ONC has completed the first new version of the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) Version 2 and initiated the process of identifying USCDI Version 3.
New SVAP timeline
As indicated by HL7, newer versions of the US Core Implementation Guide that support the latest version of USCDI are expected to be released in March of the following year. We assume that this rhythm of standard development activities will continue in the years to come. Starting with the current SVAP and for years to come, the ONC will announce approved standards for SVAP each June and expect to take effect for the use of the certification program by August of that year. The SVAP announcement in June and the effective date in August are supported by a comment period from January to May each year.
The most immediate change for the public is that the current SVAP comment deadline, which ends on September 30th, has been extended to May 2nd, 2022. In addition, the announcement of the next version of the approved standards for SVAP will be postponed by about 6 months, from January 2022 to June 2022. We do not expect any delays in implementation by healthcare IT developers, but the additional time will help that To further mature implementation specifications through additional 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 the comments were received, even though the actual SVAP announcement was made the following year.
With the updated schedule and since the entire SVAP process will be completed within the same calendar year, we took the opportunity to revert the naming convention to the year the SVAP was approved by the national coordinator. Therefore, the next version of standards approved through SVAP will be referred to as “Approved Standards for 2022” instead of 2021. (We expect a future “trivia quiz” question about the missing SVAP release for 2021!)
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