HIMSS is continually working to provide crucial tools for achieving interoperability and implementing standards in all areas of Health IT integration, including clinical and non-clinical information. Through our active volunteer groups, such as the new Interoperability & Health Information Exchange Committee, we are engaging industry leaders year-round to develop the tools and resources you need! Visit the HIMSS Innovation Center.
Interoperability describes the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data. For two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that data such that it can be understood by a user.
Looking for quick answers to basic questions about standards? Check out our FAQ: Standards in Health IT!
In an open letter to the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2014, HIMSS emphasized the need to focus on three key policy levers, one of which was interoperability leading to secure electronic exchange of health information. This goal is essential to enabling all individuals, their families, and their health care providers to have appropriate access to health information that facilitates informed decision-making, supports achieve coordinated health management, allows patients to be active partners in their health and care, and improves the overall health of our population
Healthcare isn't the first industry that has faced the imperative for interoperable systems. American railroads were initially built to serve specific cities and their surrounding areas, with little thought to eventually connecting one to another. By the 1870s there were more than 20 different railroad gauges used across the country, making it impossible for trains to move from one area to the next. It wasn't until a common standard was established, and all railroad systems adapted to match this standard, that cross-continental travel and shipping could be achieved.
In much the same way, the world has seen rapid growth in the sharing of electronic health information within individual health systems and organizations in recent years, but the standards used by one system cannot translate information to or from those used by other systems. Until a common set of standards is accepted and implemented across all healthcare settings, electronic health information cannot cross from one system to the next.
Visit the HIMSS Health Information Exchange (HIE) website to learn more about the electronic exchange of health-related data, as well as ongoing efforts to realize a fully integrated healthcare system.
HIMSS gives you the tools your organization needs to understand and apply interoperability standards.
Looking for quick answers to basic questions about HL7® FHIR®? Check out our FAQ: HL7® FHIR® and its Implications!
The Interoperability & Standards (I&S) Toolkit will help you better navigate through the various standards development organizations (SDOs) and guide you to the tools and resources needed to deploy interoperable healthcare information technology (HIT) systems. It is also intended to highlight the thought leadership of volunteers working together to analyze the foundations of HIT interoperability.
IHE USA is a leader in advancing interoperable solutions and testing programs in the US by promoting the adoption and use of IHE and other world-class standards, tools, and services for interoperability.
IHE USA engages all levels of public and private sector participants to test, implement, and use standards-based solutions for all health information needs. Watch our video to learn more about IHE USA and their role in advancing health IT in the U.S.
IHE International began in 1998 with the mutual realization by HIMSS and the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) that through cooperative efforts they could promote a higher level of interoperability among imaging and information systems. Both organizations leveraged their combined strengths to drive the integration process by encouraging the participation of vendors and raising the awareness of users and purchasers; thusly, laying the foundation of interoperability as we know it today.
In 2010, HIMSS and RSNA took the next step forward by establishing IHE USA, a deployment committee off IHE International. HIMSS and IHE USA have a very collaborative relationship, where HIMSS plays a key role as Secretariat. HIMSS provides in-kind services and staffing to IHE USA to promote interoperability and achieve the goals of the national health IT agenda through the appropriate use of IHE’s Technical Frameworks within the US.
Testing & Certification
IHE USA provides a road to certification through Connectathon testing, conformity assessment, and IHE USA Certification
IHE USA’s educational programing will keep you in the know within the ever-changing HIT industry. Our wealth of experience and knowledge are at your disposal with white papers, success stories, educational events, eBooks, and webinars.
IHE USA cuts through the industry noise with a clear voice focused on advancing IHE and US interoperability initiatives.
How can you get involved?
You can impact the national health IT agenda by actively participating in IHE USA's Committees focused on implementation, education and certification.
IHE USA is seeking qualified candidates to fill these Committee seats, including Co-chairs. Interested candidates can learn more and apply on IHE USA's website.
Get involved with the Interoperability & HIE Committee, Task Forces, and Work Groups!
The Interoperability & Health Information Exchange (HIE) Committee seeks to further advance the HIMSS strategic topic of semantic interoperability and standardization leading to successful health-related data exchange and re-use of health information.
Volunteers on this task force come from a diverse cross-disciplinary group of industry leaders working together to solicit and provide feedback on legislation and regulations impacting the area of interoperability and standards. In particular, this task force will annually review and formulate HIMSS public comment to the list of what ONC considers the best available standard(s) and implementation specification(s) for many clinical health data interoperability purposes.
This workgroup’s purpose is to maintain and develop the Fourth Edition of the HIMSS Dictionary of Healthcare Information Technology Terms, Acronyms and Organizations.
To advance the Health Story Project cause to improve the completeness and interoperability of electronic health records, in alignment with the HIMSS mission, by holding virtual meetings providing educational and networking opportunities for HIMSS members that are central to the Health Story Project’s principles.
This workgroup is open to all HIMSS members who have an interest in participating in HIMSS public comment periods focused around Interoperability & Standards content. Volunteers in this workgroup will work with the HIMSS I&S content area to solicit and provide feedback on legislation and regulations impacting the area of interoperability and standards.
HIMSS and the Global Cneter for Health Innovation and its tenants have created an educational tool, Perspectives on Healthcare Innovation to help visitors understand the importance of healthcare information exchange.
Health data sharing opportunities are dramatically expanded to include additional providers, payers, other care settings, and others as the Carequality community grows. This, in turn, helps patients receive better care, increases healthcare efficiency, and decreases healthcare costs.
In the letter HIMSS and PCHA noted that appropriate interoperability is critical to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medical devices used in systems, and see this Draft Guidance as a positive step forward in that regard.
To learn more about HIMSS Interoperability & Standards activities, please contact us.