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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)



What is the Standards & Interoperability (S&I) Framework Public Health Reporting Initiative (PHRI)?

The Standards & Interoperability (S&I) Framework is an ONC initiative designed to focus on a specific interoperability challenge identified through a formal prioritization process. Within the S&I Framework is the Public Health Reporting Initiative (PHRI), a community-led project focused on simplifying public health reporting and ensuring EHR interoperability with public health information systems. PHRI hopes to create a new public health reporting objective for Meaningful Use Stage 3 that is boader than the current program-specific objectives and will lay the ground work for public health reporting in the future.

The work is based on User Stories and Use Cases that were submitted by public health practicioners in the field. User Stories describe and summarize in technology-free terminology the business process that is used by its business actors (people) or technical actors (systems involved in the process) to achieve their goals. The User Story describes WHAT the process does. It is written by users to establish user ownership of requirements and contains the user role, their goal, and their motivation for the functionality.

A use case is a written description of steps or actions between users (or actors) and software systems (actors) that enable the actor to achieve a goal.

PHRI currently has three active sub-workgroups:
  • The Definitions Sub-Workgroup, which falls under the Vocabulary and Terminology Harmonization Workgroup. Their main task is to come to agreement around the definition of terms when it is identified that definitions for a particular term vary and/or need clarification.
  • The Data Modeling / Terminology Sub-Workgroupalso falls under the Vocabulary and Terminology Harmonization Workgroup. This sub-workgroup is helping to map user story-specific data elements into a consolidated profile and is planning to have a consolidated profile for each of the five reporting domains in April, 2012.
  • The Outreach Sub-Workgroup falls under the Outreach, Policy, and Deployment Workgroup. This sub-workgroup is responsible for the communications planning and implementation throughout the initiative.

More sub-workgroups are currently under development, including:
  • The Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 3 Deployment Sub-Workgroup, which falls under Outreach, Policy, and Deployment workgroup. This sub-workgroup will need participants to help determine which Use Cases are ready for deployment in Stage 3 MU.

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How does PHRI work?

The Initiative will examine several public health reporting user stories that share similar business processes, data and information exchange requirements. The Initiative will then:
  • Select/Harmonize the standards facilitating electronic reporting from clinical information systems to public health agencies
  • Create/Harmonize implementation specification(s)
  • Create/Harmonize reference implementations for standards testing, certification criteria, and processes
  • Create recommendations for public health reporting functions to be considered for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use

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Why is PHRI important?

Meaningful Use has become a very powerful force that is re-shaping how healthcare is delivered and in turn how public health and healthcare interface. Any changes made to how public health reporting occurs will directly affect what information public health receives, how it receives it, and how frequently it's received. without input from local public health professionals, decisions made for this process may not properly meet local public health needs. It is critical that you are involved and informed on the results of this Initiative in order to ensure that future public health reporting continues to meet public health needs. In addition, making reporting more automated and simplified may increase the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and volume of reports over time, providing a more complete picture of the buden of disease or other conditions in a community.

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What is a PHRI use case?

The PHRI use case is the foundation for identifying and specifying the standards required to support data exchange and develop reference implementations and tools ensuring consistent and reliable adoption of the data exchange standards. The PHRI use cases describe:
  • The event or activity that triggers the public health report data exchange
  • The stakeholders involved in a public health report exchange
  • The information flows that must be supported to enable public health reporting
  • The types of public health data and their specifications required for reporting

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What are the PHRI scenarios and user stories?

Scenarios and user stories summarize the interaction between the actors of the use case, and specify what information is exchanged from a public health program perspective. User stories describe the real world application as an example of the Public Health reporting scenario. Over 30 public health usre stories were submitted to PHRI and have been classified into five reporting domains:
  • Adverse Event Reporting
  • Child Health
  • Chronic Diseases
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Infrastructure/Quality/Research

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Who is involved in PHRI?

Approximately 90 active members from a wide variety of stakeholder organizations are participating including:
  • Federal/State/Local public health reporting programs
  • Standards Development Organizations (SDOs, e.g., HL7)
  • Vendors
  • Professional associations

The initiative has five co-leads, two liaisons for stakeholder communication and outreach, two facilitators, and an ONC liaison. Stakeholders meet every other Wednesday from 4-5 PM EST.

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How do I get up-to-date information on PHRI?

PHRI hosts a wiki with information on the project, including:
  • Meeting agendas and minutes
  • Project roadmap and timeline of activities
  • Current activities
For more information on these meetings, visit the wiki home page
For more information on using the wiki, see the following resources, including how-to documents:

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What has PHRI accomplished to date and what are the next steps?

PHRI has received 30 user story templates and finalized the use case harmonization document - the document is available on the wiki, following a public comment period that closed 4/11/12.

The Initiative is fostering several workgroups (see "What is the Standards & Interoperability (S&I) Framework Public Health Reporting Initiative (PHRI)"). The Data Modeling/Terminology sub-workgroup is actively working through defining and modeling core data elements across domains, preparing for functional analysis, and preparing for standards analysis and mapping.

In the short term, the next sub-workgroup to emerge will be:
  • The Standards Analysis and Selection Sub-Workgroup - Coming Soon

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Why should I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved and many reasons to do so.
  • Provide comments - comment on the artifacts generated by this process to ensure the broadest agreement throughout stakeholders in public health as the Initiative moves forward. Recently comments were needed on The PHRI Use Case: Provider-Initiated Report from EHR System to Public Health Agency System
    • Coming Soon there will be an opportunity to comment on the user story-specific data elements documents created.
  • Participate - we currently need participants to serve on all of the sub-workgroups, but we have an immediate need for those interested in serving on the Functional Requirements and the Meaningful Use Stage 3 Deploymentsub-workgroups.
    • Coming Soon there will be participant opportunities for the Standards Analysis and Selection sub-workgroup.

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How do I get involved?

  • Interested participants should:
    • Join the S&I wiki by signing up for both the initiative and/or groups (i.e., adding your name to membership lists on the wiki)
    • Email your contact info to Lindsay Brown (lrbrown@cdc.gov) to ensure you receive meeting invites and Initiative communications
  • Participate on calls
    • Your participation on the bi-weekly community-wide calls will help you stay informed, determine where you might want to participate, and help the S&I Framework spread the word about the work underway. Information about the calls can be found here

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Download PDF copy of the FAQs