Coalition launches HIE testing initiative

A coalition led by the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup and Healtheway, the newly formed public-private partnership of the eHealth Exchange, has established a program to test and certify electronic health records and other health IT to ensure interoperability and reliable data exchange.

The coalition of 15 states, 37 technology vendors and 34 HIEs has set up an automated testing program to verify that, once tested, a system is capable of exchanging health information with many other systems. With this testing, a single set of standardized, easy-to-implement connections can support communication among systems.

The effort is being jointly led by the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup, a New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC)-led consortium of states and vendors, and Healtheway, the newly formed public-private partnership of the eHealth Exchange, a network of 34 public and private organizations representing hundreds of hospitals, thousands of providers and millions of patients.

The coalition selected the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) to carry out the testing. As the compliance testing body, CCHIT will certify that the interfaces between the HIT and HIEs are consistent across multiple states and systems. CCHIT, which is also an Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) authorized certification body and is an accredited testing laboratory for EHRs, is collaborating with on the testing software, which is being developed under an open source license.

The initiative aims to accelerate consensus on national standards, adopting EHR certification criteria and testing procedures as relevant and finalized for Stage 2 of meaningful use. Members of both groups will continue to provide feedback from these real-world implementations to the national health IT standard setting initiatives established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

"Today's announcement brings together several activities supported by ONC over the past years: a core set of national standards, an accredited certification body, the Public-private partnership that has emerged from the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange, and the convening power of New York and other State Health Information Exchange grantees," said Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national coordinator for health information technology.  "We look forward to working with this consortium to continue progress on interoperability and secure health information exchange, and to reflect what is learned in national standards as necessary."

"The collaboration between the states and vendors to address a shared marketplace gap and work toward a mutual vision has been one of the remarkable aspects of this effort," said David Whitlinger, Executive Director of NYeC. "And momentum is building within both communities as states grow their HIE networks by working with the EHR and HIE vendors to provide seamless integration and clinical workflow, taking the market to a new level for the benefit of patients."