Sequoia Project and AHIMA partner on new data usability initiative

Through a collaboration with the American Health Information Management Association, the Sequoia Project will provide technical assistance, testing support and facilitation to help make data exchanged among organizations more computable and actionable.


Azuba, Civitas Networks for Health, Epic, Foothold Technologies, HCA, Health Gorilla, HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association, Kno2, MedAllies, New York eHealth Collaborative and Optum are among the first participants of the new Data Usability Taking Root initiative, which was announced Tuesday.

They’ll each choose their implementation pathways and paces for the Sequoia Project Interoperability Matters Data Usability Workgroup guidelines, selecting topics most meaningful to their organizations. 

“Implementers choose to work on areas that matter most to them,” explained Didi Davis, the Sequoia Project’s vice president of informatics, conformance and interoperability, in the new announcement. 

“For some, this could mean working on data provenance and traceability of change, data integrity and trust or data tagging and searchability,” she explained. “For others, it could mean effective use of codes, reducing the impact of duplicates, effective use of narrative or any combination they choose.”

The guidance, which targets improvements necessary for semantic interoperability of clinical data shared between healthcare providers, encourages organizations to stop thinking of usability as a distinct health IT project and to adopt a data-usability-in-all-projects approach to make practical incremental improvements over time, according to the organizations.

Amy Mosser, interim AHIMA chief executive officer, added that the public and private sectors together have made significant strides in health data interoperability.

“Data usability is part of the DNA of the health information profession,” Mosser said. “Implementation of data usability guidance on a national scale will promote consistency across technologies that share data, at a time when more data are available and shared than ever before.”

AHIMA and the Sequoia Project will host a series of virtual events that culminate in the Data Usability Taking Root Summit on September 6 in Washington, DC.


In December, the Sequoia Project published its final implementation guide on data usability.

Mariann Yeager, CEO of the Sequoia Project, described the guide as delivering real-world data usability recommendations for health information networks and communities. It covers the identified priority use cases that can be readily adopted within health information exchange vendors, implementers, networks, governance frameworks and testing programs.

Since that time seven Qualified Health Information Networks were approved to create a nationwide interoperability network under the 21st Century Cures Act.

At a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognition event in May offering updates on TEFCA interoperability milestones, Secretary Xavier Becerra recognized six of the QHINs for moving into the pre-production testing phase, including some of those that have joined the new AHIMA/Sequoia Project data usability initiative – Epic, Health Gorilla and Kno2.


“Over three years, more than 260 health organizations worked together through the Sequoia Project to develop practical guidance to make health data more useful for healthcare providers, health IT vendors, public health, health information exchanges and patients,” said Yeager in the statement announcing Data Usability Taking Root. “It’s time to put this guidance into action for the public good.”

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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