three computer screens building code for a centralized healthcare directory

Validated Healthcare Directory Not Far in the Future

The ONC convened a second workshop in June 2019 to further work on a centralized healthcare directory system, releasing the results of that workshop online this August. Healthcare directories allow patients to identify providers, organizations, and their characteristics quickly and efficiently. An HL7/FHIR-based standard called the Validated Healthcare Directory Implementation Guide (VHDir IG) was introduced, which has been under development for 3 years. The new standard will be capable of supporting a variety of desired uses for the directory.

Designed as a stakeholder forum to assess current progress and determine next steps, members focused on generating solutions to the practical aspects of implementing such a standard. Participants asked questions about funding for implementation and legal liability, and brainstormed core concepts to be included in the governance, principles and operations of the directory to benefit all stakeholders. Attendees included professionals in the tech sphere and healthcare world, along with federal partners.

The VHDir IG is envisioned as a way for providers to report updates to one place with central validation, clearly identifying who completed the validation work. Such information would increase trust in data accuracy, while the directory would be also be capable of supporting local directory systems. Overall, the standard is intended to reduce provider burden and decrease repetitive processes.

According to Daniel Chaput, IT Specialist at the ONC, real-world applications include more accurate practice location or billing data for patients, reducing health IT burden for providers, and improved regulatory compliance and accuracy for health plans. For software developers, the standard would be a step towards improving interoperability.

The VHDir IG current version is published and available online to view. The version changes regularly as HL7 International, the ONC and other organizations continue development. The guide is being continuously redesigned to be as flexible as possible when considering different needs and uses for national validated provider data.