The Office of the National Coordinator is launching a new blog series with ONC employees called Inside ONC. Inside ONC highlights an inclusive landscape of ONC employees, a variety of roles and the diverse backgrounds of those who work within ONC.
Name: Carmen Smiley
ONC office: Office of Technology, Standards Division
Title: It specialist
How does your division/office fit into ONC?
The Standards Division serves as the primary source for standards analysis, development, advancement and technical assistance for ONC, federal and state partners, and other healthcare stakeholders.
Tell us about your work at ONC.
I lead and coordinate projects in the field of patient matching and pharmacy interoperability. My work connects me with all kinds of people – from my ONC colleagues to federal partners to various industry stakeholders – and provides them with guidance, technical assistance and research. I’m also the chief of staff for Project [email protected], a new industry-led “tech spec” that can be used industry-wide to represent patient addresses. You may have recently seen me present to the HITAC Interoperability Standards Workgroup, the USCDI Workgroup or the FAST Identity & Matching Tiger Team.
What led you to your career here at ONC?
While working at the Indian Health Service and the Children’s National Hospital in DC, my colleagues and I faced major challenges in health IT adoption, implementation, maintenance, analytics, reporting, and interoperability. At the same time, I saw endless possibilities in what the future could look like for health data, patient matching and record matching and other areas. While I found my work rewarding, I actively looked for opportunities to meet this challenge and come up with solutions to move the industry as a whole forward. When I applied for my current position it was my 200e applying for a federal job. I use that same perseverance every day in my work.
What skills and strengths do you have that add value to your work portfolio?
I am trained in anthropology, research and data science, so I have the unique ability to see challenges and opportunities from a non-technical and technical point of view. I am also hyperanalytical, resourceful, independent, curious and I like solving problems. I have over 26 years of healthcare experience and have lived and worked on four continents.
What is a work-related achievement that you are most proud of? & Why?
I have had several achievements over the years at ONC that I am proud of, but a recent achievement is the release of the Project [email protected] Technical Specification and Companion Guide in January 2022. Project [email protected]’s greatest achievement was not necessarily the development and publication of the specification and guide, but the ability to coalesce and reach consensus among a wide range of stakeholders on how to capture and display addresses in the industry.
What do you think is the best thing about working for ONC?
One of the best aspects of working for ONC is the autonomy I have over my job and the ability to continuously learn.
How would you characterize the success of ONC?
I think ONC’s success may lie in the positive impact our work has had on federal agencies and industry as they work towards standards adoption and interoperability.
What is a project you are currently working on and how does it fit into the ONC mission?
One project I’m working on is USCDI as a patient demographic data class leader. The USCDI is a standardized set of health data classes and elements for nationwide interoperable health sharing. Much of my work on USCDI involves engaging stakeholders, reviewing public comments, conducting research, and working to add new, high-value data elements to support patient matching and record matching, identity integrity, and fairness. Accurate patient matching is a fundamental requirement for nationwide interoperability.
How does ONC support your professional development?
I’ve had several opportunities over the years to take on new projects in areas totally unknown to me, giving me opportunities to develop relationships with a variety of people and organizations, view health IT from different perspectives, acquire knowledge and skills and provide guidance to federal partners and other stakeholders from the sector.
What are ONC’s core values that are important to you?
The ONC core value that is most often applied in practice on a daily basis is teamwork. We work together on a number of problems that are very complex and that is why we rely on a multidisciplinary team to solve them. We reach our full potential when we work together, relying on our individual strengths to achieve our collective best.
Are there any other benefits of working at ONC that you would like to mention?
The ability to lead meaningful work and potential to have national impact.