Plays Well with Others
Healthcare Moves Closer, Continues Quest for Interoperability By CINDY SANDERS
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is keenly focused on improving health and the business of healthcare through the application of information technology. To accomplish that, the global non-profit organization recognizes the very real need to improve interoperability, which is even more crucial as the United States moves to a value-based system that follows the patient across the continuum of care. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that over the last few decades, the historically siloed healthcare industry has embraced numerous innovative programs and platforms designed to improve quality, outcomes and efficiency … without giving much forethought to how that technology might interact with other entities. In fact, it’s not even unusual to find multiple HIT applications that have trouble communicating under the same roof. Joyce Sensmeier, RN-BC, MS, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, who serves as vice president of Informatics for HIMSS, said breaking down those barriers to effectively share and interpret data is a core … albeit complex … focus for HIMSS. “At the foundation of it is the need for stan-
dards and for everyone to be implementing those standards in the right way,” she noted.
Moving the Needle
The HIMSS Inno- Joyce Sensmeier vation Center, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is the centerpiece of the organization’s interoperability efforts. ConCert by HIMSS™ comprehensively tests and certifies electronic health record (EHR) and health information exchange (HIE) vendors. Built off of the
findings of the EHR|HIE Workgroup and the IHE USA (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise USA), the ConCert seal of approval means a product has been proven to be interoperable with other products. Noting HIMSS works closely with IHE, Sensmeier said the annual ‘Connectathon,” which is usually held each January in Cleveland, fosters collaboration among competitors with the mutual goal of improved interoperability. “It’s refreshing to see them working on that in a neutral environment,” she noted of the approximately 500 systems engineers representing 100 organizations who come together to collec-
tively improve data sharing. Sensmeier added yet another barometer of interoperability momentum was on display this past February in Orlando at the Interoperability Showcase. “We had the largest number of participants this past year,” she said, adding, “Vendors have to be able to show interoperability to even participate.” The showcases typically feature about 15 different use case scenarios to provide attendees the opportunity to witness how standards-based transactions could impact care across the continuum by decreasing duplicative entry and enhancing quality and safety. “It really brings a picture of what can be,” Sensmeier said, adding nearly 10,000 attendees came through the showcase in Orlando.
Sensmeier said progress also is visible in the work being done by Regional HIEs. In the San Diego area, where Sensmeier is based, the large hospitals have worked together to enable access to patient data no matter the facility where it originated through the deployment of business agreements. While technology standards have enabled cross-communication at the base, (CONTINUED ON PAGE 6)
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