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EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup


Our Mission

The goal of the EHR | HIE Interoperability Workgroup is to create an integrated marketplace of EHR capabilities in which the interfaces between EHRs and HIEs are consistent across multiple states.


What is the HIE Certified Program?

HIE Certified is a program that tests and certifies electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchange records (HIEs) to enable reliable transfer of data within and across organizational and state boundaries.

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Solving Today's Interoperability Problems

The EHR | HIE Interoperability Workgroup is a coalition of 19 States (representing nearly 50% of the U.S. population), 23 EHR vendors, and 24 HIE vendors. The workgroup was launched in February 2011 to leverage existing standards and develop consistent implementation guides for interoperability between HIE software platforms, and the applications that interface with them. The goal of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup is to create an integrated marketplace of EHR capabilities, in which the interfaces between EHRs and HIEs will be compatible more easily across and between states.

Currently, because there is no single set of standards to connect various information exchanges, custom interfaces must be developed with virtually every new effort in the field. The development of these interfaces drastically increases cost and time spent by physicians, HIEs, and vendors alike. This has limited both adoption of EHRs, and usage of HIE services.

Realizing that merging efforts with other states would create economies of scale and provide the vendor community with a single, consistent set of specifications, the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) created the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup last year. Commitment to common standards creates a larger potential market and a clearer development roadmap for vendors. Vendor collaboration and commitment to common APIs, and certification of a common HIE platform, creates a potentially larger opportunity for all of them by guaranteeing interoperability.

This effort builds on and accelerates consensus on national standards, adopting EHR certification criteria and testing procedures as relevant and finalized for Stage 2 of meaningful use. Members of the Workgroup provide feedback from 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).

The workgroup has developed a set of specifications that will ultimately allow for “out-of-the-box” EHR connectivity, to simplify and align the process of EHR and HIE development. The first set of functional, technical, and test specifications developed by the workgroup focus on two use-cases. The technical specifications include:

  • Statewide Send and Receive Patient Record Exchange allows encrypted health information to be transmitted over the internet (Direct Exchange)
  • Statewide Patient Data Inquiry Service allows clinician to query an HIE for relevant data on a specific patient (Patient Record Lookup)
  • Continuity of Care Document (CCD): Complements and constrains ONC specifications (C32/C83) to reduce variances and state-specific customization

Partnership with HealtheWay

Healtheway is a non-profit organization chartered to operationally support the eHealth Exchange, formerly the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) Exchange, as it transitioned from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) initiative to a public-private endeavor. Healtheway leads in cross-industry collaboration to develop implementation strategies that enable secure, interoperable nationwide exchange of health information. The eHealth Exchange is a rapidly growing community of exchange partners, who share information under a common trust framework and a common set of rules. Currently, 34 participants include 4 federal agencies, 5 states, 8 beacon communities and more than a dozen Health Information Organizations (HIOs) and health systems, which represent hundreds of hospitals, thousands of providers and millions of patients.

Healtheway and the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup formed a strategic partnership to enable technology systems, public and private providers and health information organizations (HIOs) to have access to more efficient testing.

The coalition harmonized a set of functional, technical and test specifications that enable true plug and play connectivity to simplify EHR and HIE development. The coalition’s work covers the ability to send and receive encrypted health information over the Internet, lookup and retrieve patient records, and produce a tightly constrained patient record summary which reduces variances and implementation-specific customization. These capabilities will allow providers to meet their goals for coordinating patient care.

ONC Exemplar HIE Governance Program

The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) was awarded a cooperative agreement by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to participate in the Exemplar HIE Governance Program on behalf of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup. The cooperative agreement allowed the workgroup to continue its efforts in developing robust implementation specifications for 'plug and play' interoperability. Through the Exemplar HIE Governance Program, the workgroup addressed the implementation challenges facing the exchange of health information. One area of the group's focus was that of querying provider directories in a HISP to HISP exchange environment. The outcomes and lessons learned from the program translated into stronger implementation specifications and supported, strengthened, and advanced existing ONC efforts to improve the standards for Direct Messaging and Query - based exchange. The Exemplar HIE Governance grant is currently underway with Pilot programs related to Provider Directories and HISP and HISP exchange. The IWG’s facilitation of conversations about the nuances in the technical standards and serving as a conduit to the work of the ModSpec project advanced a collaboration between IHE USA and the ModSpec project, ultimately leading to an update to the IHE specification for Provider Directories