ONC Awards Exemplar HIE Governance Program Cooperative Agreement

Program will facilitate workgroup’s efforts to further test, implement, and advance interoperability standards across vendors and states

The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) today announced that it has been 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 will allow the workgroup to continue its efforts in developing robust implementation specifications for ‘plug and play’ interoperability. The workgroup will address the implementation challenges facing the exchange of health information including patient matching and querying provider directories. These learnings will translate into stronger implementation specifications and will support, strengthen, and advance existing ONC efforts to improve the standards for Direct Messaging and Query-based exchange.

The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup (IWG) is a NYeC-led coalition of 19 States (representing 52% of the U.S. population), 20 electronic health record (EHR) vendors, and 22 health information exchange (HIE) vendors. The workgroup was launched in February 2011 to leverage existing standards and develop consistent implementation guides to support interoperability between HIE software platforms, and the applications that interface with them. Over the last two years, the IWG’s coalition of partners have been working collaboratively to develop specifications and promulgate standards that support plug and play health IT functionality for interoperability. The IWG has announced the “HIE Certified” certification program for vendors to test against these specifications. The goal of the program is to make it simple for healthcare providers to know that when they buy a health IT system it has all the components required for plug and play interoperability.

The Exemplar HIE Governance Program allows the ONC to work collaboratively with entities already involved in governance of health information exchange, encouraging the continued development and adoption of policies, interoperability requirements, and business practices that will increase the ease of electronic health information exchange, reduce implementation costs, and assure the privacy and security of data being exchanged. This work will support and advance the efforts of existing governance entities which will benefit consumers and providers by allowing health information to flow securely between unaffiliated healthcare organizations.

“The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup is an important partner in our efforts to advance the standards, policies and business practices facilitating exchange across organizational, vendor and geographic boundaries,” said ONC’s Claudia Williams , Program Director, State Health Information Exchange Program. “The Exemplar HIE Governance Program will provide a mechanism for cooperative agreement awardees like NYeC as well as vendors, providers and health information exchange initiatives to collaborate in achieving those goals.”

“We are thrilled that the ONC has recognized the significant contributions of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup in driving the development and implementation of plug and play exchange standards,” said Dave Whitlinger , Executive Director of the New York eHealth Collaborative. “This cooperative agreement will allow the Workgroup to focus on real-world implementation of Direct Messaging and Query-based exchange occurring in multiple states, further driving consistency and informing the ONC about issues faced in the field. This strong focus on solving implementation hurdles will make it easier for providers to utilize and leverage health information exchange to support care coordination and improved patient outcomes.”

The IWG recently selected the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) to carry out compliance testing against the workgroup’s agreed upon specifications. CCHIT will test and certify that the interfaces between EHRs and HIEs are consistent across multiple states and systems.  With this testing, a single set of standardized, easy-to-implement connections can support communication among systems, reducing costs and further enabling the exchange of clinical data.

ecutive Director, David Whitlinger , on a telephone news briefing from 12:00 – 1:00pm ET. To participate in the briefing, please contact Liz Austin at 212-710-0322 or eaustin@regancomm.com.

About The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC): NYeC is a not-for-profit organization, working in partnership with the New York State Department of Health to improve healthcare for all New Yorkers through health information technology (health IT). Founded in 2006 by healthcare leaders, NYeC receives funding from state and federal grants to serve as the focal point for health IT in the State of New York. NYeC works to develop policies and standards, to assist healthcare providers in making the shift to electronic health records, and to coordinate the creation of the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY), a network to connect healthcare providers statewide. For more information about NYeC, visit www.nyehealth.org and @NYeHealth.