Health IT Groups Form Alliance To Improve Data Exchange

November 18, 2014 in News

On Monday, three health IT groups announced a new strategic partnership designed to streamline the process for health data exchange across state lines, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 11/17).

Partnership Details

The partnership — dubbed the Joint Interoperability Testing and Certification Program — includes:

  • The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup;
  • The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society; and
  • Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise USA (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 11/17).

The new alliance aims to strengthen the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup’s current program to test and certify electronic health records and health information exchange vendors to enable reliable data exchange across organizations and state boundaries (Health Data Management, 11/17).

The workgroup was launched by the New York-eHealth Collaborative in 2011 (iHealthBeat, 11/9/11). Currently, it consists of 19 states and 47 EHR and HIE vendors.

The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup named ICSA Labs as the group’s testing and certification entity (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 11/17). The lab currently certifies EHRs for the meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

According to an overview of the testing program, the partnership aims to:

  • Accelerate interoperability between EHR and HIE products and provide more robust interoperability testing tools;
  • Create new use cases and specifications to support the health care ecosystem;
  • Converge disparate certification initiatives to reduce the burden on health IT developers and improve efficiency;
  • Improve patient safety while reducing health care costs by creating and maintaining specifications for patient/provider identification and health data exchange;
  • Improve decision-making among purchasers and implementers by differentiating health IT products with advanced capabilities available in the marketplace; and
  • Simplify programs and messaging to providers and the health IT industry (EHR Intelligence, 11/17).

The partnership could affect more than half of the U.S. population and their health care providers, giving them secure access to health data that can be shared across states and systems, according to a release (Health Data Management, 11/18).

Dave Whitlinger, executive director of the New York-eHealth Collaborative, said that vendors involved in the program will be able to engage in query-based health data exchange, in which the EHR asks the exchange for patient data. He said, “We think of this work as necessary for a two-year need,” noting that other “ten-year plans have a bigger, broader arc and vision” (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 11/17).

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