The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is a staff division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and they are focused on implementing an interoperable and secure nationwide health information system. The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup (IWG) is a New York-led group of 19 states and 47 EHR and HIE vendors. Their goal is to increase the adoption of EHRs and HIE services by eliminating the significant “interface” cost and time barrier.
They have banded with three other groups to help with the demands of inter-state data exchange – the other groups are HIMSS, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise and ICSA Labs. The strategic partnership was announced on November 17, 2014. This coalition could impact more than half of the U.S. population and their caregivers by adopting EHR certification measures, testing procedures, and providing information to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. This alliance will strengthen IWG’s current program to test and certify vendors to facilitate reliable data transfer within and across organizational and state boundaries.
Joyce Sensmeier, RN and president of IHE USA spoke about the strengths of each involved group stating that IWG offers a robust, automated testing tool and major workgroup membership; that IHE USA brings provisions for the basis of interoperability and know-how in system-to-system testing; that HIMSS is known for its consistent convening strength and sector support; and that ICSA Labs provides expert health IT analysts.
Health record systems need to be able to communicate and that exchange will improve patient care and lower healthcare costs. Interoperability refers to systems that allow providers to share data among different practitioners, insurers, billing/scheduling systems and health information exchanges improving quality of patient care, improving efficiency of reporting and data filing, and making life saving information more readily available.
The six uniformity dimensions of interoperability include:
- Uniform movement of healthcare data
- Uniform presentation of data
- Uniform user controls
- Uniform safeguarding data security and integrity
- Uniform protection of patient confidentiality
- Uniform assurance of a common degree of system service quality