Interoperability & Health Information Exchange

HIMSS is continually working to provide crucial tools for the advancement of semantic interoperability and standards-based health information and technology systems that lead to meaningful health information exchange. Through our active volunteer groups, which fall under the Interoperability & Health Information Exchange Committee, we are engaging industry leaders year-round to develop the tools and resources you need! 

We invite you to discover our resource library comprised of resources created by our volunteer groups that work to further better health through information and technology advocacy and education on the topics of standards-based interoperability and health information exchange.

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 a user can understand it.  In order to ensure interoperability, the use of standards enable data to be shared across disparate healthcare settings regardless of the application or vendor.

Health information exchange (HIE), both the noun and the verb, is a dynamic and evolving landscape. HIE is critical for successful healthcare reform, enabling interoperability and meaningful use of health information and technology, and HIMSS is here to help healthcare and health information and technology professionals understand all of the latest developments.

Through our active volunteer groups, such as our Interoperability & HIE Community and the Interoperability & HIE Committee, we are engaging industry leaders year-round to develop the tools and resources you need!

Interoperability Leading to Health Information Exchange

In its advocacy and education, HIMSS emphasizes the importance of achieving interoperability leading to secure electronic exchange of health information. This goal is essential to enabling all individuals, their loved ones, 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 is not 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.

HIMSS Interoperability Call to Action & Interoperability Initiatives Environmental Scan

HIMSS asserts that we must achieve secure, appropriate, and ubiquitous data access and electronic exchange of health information, and provides guiding principles to inform health policy and spur our nation’s health sector to action.

The Call to Action was championed by HIMSS's Interoperability & HIE Committee and informed by their work to create the Interoperability Initiatives Environmental Scan.

Read the Call to Action

Interoperability in Healthcare Guide

The Interoperability in Healthcare Guide will help you better navigate through the various existing and emerging standards and standards development organizations and guide you to the tools and resources needed to deploy interoperable healthcare information and technology systems. It is also intended to highlight the thought leadership of volunteers working together to analyze the foundations of interoperability.

Health Story Project

The Health Story Project is dedicated to a comprehensive electronic record containing a patient’s complete health story that can be shared to improve care through collaboration and analysis.

HIMSS Interoperability & HIE Initiatives

HIMSS leads and contributes to many efforts that touch on the topics of Interoperability and Health Information Exchange. Below is a list of the many initiatives occurring within HIMSS.

Interoperability Showcase™

The Interoperability Showcase™ exhibit provides a full landscape of health information and technology solutions and live demonstrations of interoperability. Educational opportunities at the Showcase connect thousands of health information and technology buyers and end-users to answer your most complex health information and technology questions.

Immunization Integration Program

The Immunization Integration Program (IIP), a collaborative effort between Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc., HIMSS and Drummond Group, takes immunization workflow mainstream, streamlining and improving overall vaccine administration and management process.

Personal Connected Health Alliance

The Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHAlliance), a non-profit organization formed by HIMSS, believes that health is personal and extends beyond healthcare. The PCHAlliance mobilizes a coalition of stakeholders to realize the full potential of personal connected health. They also publish and promote the global adoption of the Continua Design Guidelines, an open framework for user-friendly, interoperable health data exchange in personal connected health. The Continua Design Guidelines are recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations, as the international standard for safe, secure, and reliable exchange of data to and from personal health devices.