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 Interoperability refers to the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.
at the ONC Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) – Located within the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) coordinates nationwide ...
, 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 Electronic Health Record (EHR), as defined in Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms (The National Alliance for Health Information Technology, April 28, 2008): An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conform.../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 Continuity of Care Document (CCD) The HL7 CCD is the result of a collaborative effort between the Health Level Seven and American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) to “harmonize” the data format between ASTM’s Continuity of Care Record (CCR)...
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 Health Information Exchange (HIE) focuses on the mobilization of healthcare information electronically across organizations within a region or community. HIE provides the capability to electronically move clinical information between disparate health... 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:
Increased consistency of documents.
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.