ONC and FHA to Host HIMSS Interoperability Showcase

Dr. Doug Fridsma | February 21, 2011

The upcoming Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference showcases some of the most forward-thinking health IT interoperability projects that are transforming the way health information is shared and utilized throughout the country.

As part of HIMSS 2011, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Federal Health Architecture (FHA) will once again host a series of demonstrations within the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase. This year there will be approximately 40 demonstrations highlighting how health practitioners are securely exchanging health data between doctor’s offices, hospitals, benefit providers, government agencies, and with other health organizations, all across America. There will be a particular emphasis on demonstrations related to the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange, the Direct Project, the S&I Framework, and CONNECT.

The demonstrations within the ONC and FHA-dedicated area of the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase provide a range of examples of how nationwide health IT collaboration will help improve care for Americans. Below are two examples of demonstrations attendees will see when they stop by the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase:

  • Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER): The VLER public-private partnership is an initiative announced by President Barack Obama that ensures that electronic health records (EHRs) transition along with our Service men and women, wherever they are deployed. This initiative illustrates how the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are working with the private sector to ensure the best care possible for our military and veterans.
  • State Demonstrations: The state of Wisconsin will demonstrate an approach to supporting Stage 1 Meaningful Use HIE requirements using a Health Information Service Provider, the Direct secure messaging solution, and a provider directory developed by the Wisconsin Medical Society.

Programs Demonstrated within the Showcase

Most of the demonstrations within the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase focus on programs that fall under the aegis of the Office of Interoperability and Standards, namely the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange, the Direct Project, CONNECT, and the S&I Framework.

Direct Project
Attendees will also see a series of eight demonstrations that highlight the use of Direct Project specifications. Launched in March 2010 as a part of the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange, the Direct Project was created to specify a simple, secure, scalable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet. Today, the Direct Project has more than 200 participants from over 60 different organizations, including EHR and personal health record (PHR) vendors, medical organizations, systems integrators, integrated delivery networks, federal organizations, state and regional health information organizations, organizations that provide health information exchange capabilities, and health information technology consultants.

A series of demonstrations will show how the CONNECT open-source software gateway supports health organizations securely exchanging health-related information using nationally recognized standards – despite geographic location in the United States. Originally built by more than 20 federal agencies, CONNECT uses Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange standards and governance as part of its open-source software framework to connect providers, insurers, federal agencies, states, and others involved in supporting health and healthcare. CONNECT is free of charge and is managed by the Federal Health Architecture and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange
Attendees will be able to visit with many members of the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange and see how their projects are working. Members of the Exchange are organizations that have satisfied the technical and legal requirements for participation, and they are already reaping the benefits of using harmonized standards and specifications as a basis for nationwide interoperability. As an example of the value of Exchange participation, the U.S. Social Security Administration, through its partnership with MedVirginia, has been able to reduce turnaround time for medical disability determinations from an average of 84 days to 46 days – a 45 percent improvement. Of these, a determination was made in 161 cases (about 3.1 percent) within 48 hours of receipt.

S&I Framework
The Standards and Interoperability (S&I) Framework is an open government initiative focused on providing integrated content and technical specifications that support the interoperable exchange of healthcare information nationwide. S&I Framework specifications are guided by the healthcare and technology industry and include integrated functions, processes, and tools. The Framework supports national health outcomes and healthcare priorities, including Meaningful Use, the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange, and the ongoing mission to create better care, better population health, and cost reduction through delivery improvements.

To learn more about the programs that make up OIS or to see any of the demonstrations first-hand, please visit the Orange County Conference Center, Hall E, Booth #7343, located in the ONC/FHA Area.

Did you visit the Interoperability Showcase at HIMSS? If so, we want to hear from you! Submit your comments below.