The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup released its initial technical specifications Nov. 8, 2011. The specifications aim to standardize connections between healthcare providers, health information exchanges (HIEs) and other entities involved in communicating patient health information. The specifications can be downloaded from the group’s website: www.interopwg.org.

This workgroup started as an initiative in the state of New York, with the founding member being the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC). There are now seven federally designated counterparts, including the states of California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon. The group is looking for widespread adoption as the specifications gain momentum.
 
The group has gained the support of both the Director of the Office of Standards & Interoperability at the ONC, Dr. Doug Fridsma, and the Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee, Dr. John Halamka:
 
"I am encouraged by and excited about this type of collaboration, which has the potential to advance real-world pilots, implementation and feedback on standards for health information exchange. The results of this kind of initiative can help us advance health IT nationwide." —Dr. Doug Fridsma
 
"I applaud the work that the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup is doing to move states from implementation guides to production. I expect that the flexibility and agility of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup will serve as an ideal laboratory for standards that are rapidly evolving." —Dr. John Halamka
 
In developing the standards, the workgroup used as a baseline existing HL7 standards, profiles from IHE International, and HIE implementation experience as inputs for the initial version of the specification. For this first set of specifications, the focus is on two use cases along with additional constraints around the specification of a Continuity of Care Document (CCD). 
  • Statewide Send and Receive Patient Record Exchange Use Case. Includes guidance on how encrypted health information can be transmitted over the Internet.
  • Statewide Patient Data Inquiry Service Use Case. Provides details regarding the clinician's ability to query an HIE for relevant patient health information.
  • Specifications related to the CCD document. Provide additional constraint to the HITSP specifications for a CCD. 
The additional constraints for the CCD are aligned with the overall goals of HL7 Version 3, which include:
  • Reduced optionality.
  • Increased consistency of documents.
  • Reuse maximization.
The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup next steps includes evaluating potential reference implementations of the specifications across states and with different vendors; and working on future capabilities, according to their website.
Dowload the free white paper, Continuity of Care Document (CCD): Changing The Landscape of Healthcare Information Exchange.” to learn more about CCDs and how they're changing how health care – and what health data – is exchanged in HIEs and in the handful of functional Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), 

 

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