Standardized specifications for EHR / HIE interoperability announced

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A consistent barrier for healthcare IT personnel is that of interoperability standards for electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs). To address these problems in an effort to streamline the adoption of clinical informatics systems for healthcare facilities, the EHR / HIE Interoperability Workgroup has announced a standardized set of protocols that aim to enable hospitals to connect to HIEs using medical informatics networks.

The guidelines also aim to reduce healthcare IT budgetary concerns relating to overcoming interoperability problems. Many healthcare providers experience difficulty in configuring their medical informatics network to access patient data stored in large HIEs, which can often be statewide.

In addition to providing healthcare facilities with a standardized set of connectivity protocols, the framework also aims to enable clinical informatics vendors to implement interoperability features to new iterations of their networks. Clinical informatics systems are often cloud-based, allowing for greater customization and integration of new functionality after the product has been released.

“This is a crucial step. We started this as a New York State initiative, but we soon realized that many other states were facing the same interoperability challenges and many of the EHR and HIE vendors were also looking for clarity from the marketplace to define their product roadmaps,” David Whitlinger, executive director of the New York eHealth Collaborative, told Healthcare IT News. “Collectively, the group is now looking forward to widespread adoption and market preference for the products that employ the specifications.”

A primary goal of the project at this stage is the standardization of Statewide Send and Receive Patient Record Exchange data, which concerns how patient health information is encrypted when being transmitted across HIEs to medical informatics systems. Another goal of the framework relates to the Statewide Patient Data Inquiry Service, which enables physicians to query several HIE databases when accessing patient information and possible treatment options.