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Workgroup defines “plug and play” connections between electronic health records and health information exchanges

New York, NY—Nov 8, 2011— A group of states and vendors focused on eliminating the barriers tosharing electronic health records (EHRs) today issued a set of technical specifications tostandardize connections between healthcare providers, health information exchanges(HIEs) and other data-sharing partners. The specifications are now available for thepublic to view at

The objective of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup is to define a single set ofstandardized, easy-to-implement connections to increase the adoption of EHRs and HIEservices. The effort leveraged existing published standards for interoperability from theOffice of the National Coordinator (ONC). Ultimately, the specifications aim to removeimpediments that make it difficult for EHRs to connect to HIEs, including technicalspecification differences, wait times for interface development, and high costs.

The workgroup was originally formed by the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC)and is comprised of its federally designated counterparts in seven states (California,Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon) representingapproximately 30% of the country’s population. The eight EHR vendor members includeAllscripts, eClinicalWorks, e-MDs, Greenway Medical Technologies, McKessonPhysician Practice Solutions, NextGen Healthcare, Sage Healthcare Division, andSiemens Healthcare. In addition, there are three HIE services vendors participating,including Axolotl, InterSystems, and Medicity.

Doug Fridsma, MD and PhD, Director of the Office of Standards & Interoperability at theOffice of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, commented, “I amencouraged by and excited about this type of collaboration, which has the potential toadvance real-world pilots, implementation and feedback on standards for healthinformation exchange. The results of this kind of initiative can help us advance health ITnationwide.”

“This is a crucial step,” said David Whitlinger, Executive Director of NYeC. “We startedthis as a New York State initiative, but we soon realized that many other states werefacing the same interoperability challenges and many of the EHR and HIE vendors werealso looking for clarity from the marketplace to define their product roadmaps.Collectively, the group is now looking forward to widespread adoption and marketpreference for the products that employ the specifications.”

The first set of specifications focuses on two use cases and the detailed data and metadataspecification for a compliant Continuity of Care Document. The first use case, StatewideSend and Receive Patient Record Exchange, describes how encrypted health informationcan be transmitted over the internet. The second, the Statewide Patient Data InquiryService Use Case, describes the clinician’s ability to query an HIE for relevant data on aspecific patient.

The workgroup members collaborated to leverage existing HL7 standards, technicalframeworks from IHE International, and HIE implementations to provide a fully detailedimplementation specification. The implementation specifications were also aligned withBeacon community guidelines to be capable of gathering information required forreporting to the ONC.

“I applaud the work that the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup is doing to movestates from implementation guides to production. I expect that the flexibility and agilityof the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup will serve as an ideal laboratory forstandards that are rapidly evolving,” stated John Halamka, MD, Co-Chair of the HITStandards Committee, Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess MedicalCenter, Chief Information Officer at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the NewEngland Healthcare Exchange Network.

Visit for quotes from:

  • Phyllis Albritton, Executive Director of CORHIO (Colorado)
  • Robert Barker, Manager of Interoperability & Standards for NextGen Healthcare
  • Justin Barnes, Vice President of Marketing, Industry and Government Affairs ofGreenway and member of the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE-USA)Board of Directors
  • Dominick Bizzarro, HealthShare Business Manager, InterSystems Corporation
  • John Glaser, PhD, CEO, Siemens Healthcare, Health Services Business Unit
  • John Halamka, Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee, Chief InformationOfficer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chief Information Officer atHarvard Medical School, Chairman of the New England Healthcare ExchangeNetwork (NEHEN)
  • David Henriksen, SVP and GM of McKesson Physician Practice Solutions
  • David Horrocks, President of the Chesapeake Regional Information System forOur Patients (CRISP), Maryland’s Statewide Health Information Exchange
  • Glenn Keet, President of Axolotl, now OptumInsight
  • David Minch, HIE Director for John Muir Health and Technical Advisor to CaleConnect, California’s State Designated Entity
  • Girish Kumar Navani, CEO and Co-Founder of eClinicalWorks
  • Betty Otter-Nickerson, Sage Healthcare Division President
  • Carol Robinson, Administrator of OHIT and Oregon’s State Coordinator forHealth IT
  • Ashish V. Shah, Chief Architect and Senior VP of Medicity
  • Rick Shoup, PhD, State HIT Coordinator and Director of the Massachusetts e-Health Institute
  • Michael Stearns, MD, President and CEO of e-MDs
  • Glen Tullman, Chief Executive Officer of Allscripts
  • Dave Whitlinger, Executive Director, New York eHealth Collaborative
  • Colleen Woods, New Jersey Health IT Coordinator

Editorial Contact

Andrew Moesel
(212) 725-2378