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 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 & Standards
What Is Interoperability?
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.
Check out the following to learn more:
Looking for quick answers to basic questions about standards? Check out our FAQ: Standards in Health IT!
Other HIMSS Interoperability & Standards information
- Visit the HIMSS Innovation Center, the first of its kind, year-round facility to foster collaborative testing and demonstration of how interoperable systems improve the quality and efficiency of care for patients and communities.
- Join the Health Story Project and getting involved with interoperability at the national level to contribute to the Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA) cited in Meaningful Use Stage 2. All HIMSS members can opt-in to the Health Story Project at no charge.
- Go to HIMSS Mobile Health Standards and Interoperability Resources Page for white papers, articles, and ways you can get involved! Log In and read the mHIMSS Mobile Health Roadmap Section on Standards and Interoperability.
- Read the HIMSS response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) on its Request for Information [CMS-0038-NC] Advancing Interoperability and Health Information Exchange
Interoperability Leading to Health Information Exchange
Interoperability Leading to Health Information Exchange
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
Interoperability in American History
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.
ONC HIT Dashboard
The Health IT Dashboard from ONC provides data visualizations for you to interact with open health IT data.
ONC 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA)
The ISA is a resource that coordinates the identification, assessment, and public awareness of interoperability standards and implementation specifications that can be used by the healthcare industry to address specific interoperability needs.
ONC Interoperability Proving Ground
The Interoperability Proving Ground (IPG) is an open, community platform where you can share, learn, and be inspired by interoperability projects occurring in the United States (and around the world).
Interoperability & Standards Toolkit
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.
Standards-based Interoperability Solutions
What is IHE USA?
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.
What is IHE USA’s relationship with HIMSS?
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.
How is IHE USA leading interoperability efforts in the US?
Testing & Certification
IHE USA provides a road to certification through Connectathon testing, conformity assessment, and IHE USA Certification
- IHE Connectathons provide an unparalleled opportunity for interoperability testing and problem resolution. Learn more about the largest interoperability testing event in the US!
- IHE USA Certification instills confidence in your products. Learn how you can leverage IHE’s industry experts to assure healthcare providers your products are truly interoperable.
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 Interoperability For Dummies, IHE Edition is a completely free resource that provides practical advice for understanding the ins and outs of healthcare interoperability!
- IHE North American (NA) Connectathon Conference is an educational and networking event with a special focus on interoperability and advancing health information exchange. Learn from healthcare IT’s top thought leaders as they converge at the IHE NA Connectathon Conference each year in January.
- Connectathon 101 moves beyond the introductory educational sessions at the IHE NA Connectathon Conference to provide in-depth technical knowledge with hands-on training specifically tailored toward engineers from organizations that have never tested at an IHE Connectathon.
- Watch our video!
IHE USA cuts through the industry noise with a clear voice focused on advancing IHE and US interoperability initiatives.
- IHE USA convenes key stakeholders in the US, including on-going and active engagement with the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), government health agencies (i.e. OPA, CDC), Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), Standard Development Organizations (SDO), and other key stakeholders.
- IHE sets the blueprint for interoperability—IHE Profiles and IHE Connectathons are referenced throughout national initiatives as core components enabling interoperability in the US.
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.
- IHE USA Implementation Committee will ensure and document successful implementation of IHE International and US Extension specifications in the deployment of health information technology (HIT) in the US ecosystem.
Get involved with the Interoperability & HIE Committee, Community, Task Forces and Work Groups! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Interoperability & Health Information Exchange Committee
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.
Interoperability and Health Information Exchange Community
Our community serves as the central convening point for interoperability and health information exchange (HIE) professionals to promote meaningful education and thought leadership in the health IT industry. We connect professionals committed to transforming health through standards-based interoperability and HIE, with opportunities for networking with peers, sharing ideas, learning best practices, and leveraging collaborative opportunities.
The Standards Advisory Task Force
This HIMSS Task Force reviews and formulates HIMSS public comment for the ONC Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) and other related documents. This document contains a list of interoperability standards and implementation specifications for industry use to fulfill specific clinical health IT interoperability needs. Previously, this resource was released on an annual basis with two opportunities to give comments. This ONC resource is now updated on a continual basis with an ongoing opportunity for feedback. This Task Force convenes to review the content of the ISA, and other relevant documents, and provide requested feedback to the ONC on ways to improve and further use and adoption of this document and the standards it includes. To learn more, check out previous HIMSS comments for the 2017 Draft ISA here.
The Interoperability & HIE Toolkit Work Group
The volunteers in this HIMSS Work Group focus on strategic issues identified by the Interoperability & HIE Committee and Community that need further exploration and clarity within the industry. This group convenes as necessary based on the needs assessed by the I&HIE Committee and Community. Once convened, this Work Group is charged with creating resources to educate the health IT community.
The Exploring Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Technology for Healthcare Task Force
Volunteers on this HIMSS Task Force focus on defining how Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology can support the healthcare industry in an era of interoperability and health IT standards. The goal of this group is to explore how the use of CRM technology can accommodate the growing imperative providers have to communicate with their patients through multiple modalities (e.g. voice, video, text, apps) and to manage these relationships with tools that allow them to marry clinical data with engagement and other person-generated data.
Health Story Project
The Health Story Project works to advance current technology and standards around document exchange to best capture and share a person’s complete health story. This volunteer group holds quarterly virtual Roundtables and resources for HIMSS members that are central to the Health Story Project’s principles and educates the community on how standards such as C-CDA can help further the patient’s story and benefit stakeholders from across the healthcare system. This group is seeking to broaden their membership to include participants from the clinical, patient, payer and technical perspectives.
Learn more about the Health Story Project here.
Christina Caraballo, recipient of the 2017 HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards, talks healthcare transformation and shares her success story in the second installment of our WHIT Blog Series.
Be sure to attend our webinar Tuesday July 18 to learn more about the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™ at HIMSS18.
In April, I wrote a blog post introducing the new interactive Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) and sharing HIMSS’s first set of comments in response to ONC requests for feedback included in the document. The HIMSS Standards Advisory Task Force recently compiled a second set of comments, continuing the conversation about critical needs to improve interoperability within the health IT ecosystem.