The  Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) announced on November 17 that the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup (IWG) has formed a strategic relationship with HIMSS and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) USA. The goal of the partnership will be to advance efforts to connect electronic health records (EHRs) to health information exchanges (HIEs) for more secure sharing of patient data. HIMSS reports that the alliance between the three organizations is aimed at strengthening IWG’s current program to test and certify EHR and HIE vendors to enable reliable transfer of patient data within and across organizational and state boundaries. ICSA Labs has been selected as the testing and certification body for this effort.

“This joint effort will help pave the way for health information to be exchanged seamlessly between systems, allowing clinicians and health systems to more easily and securely share patient data,” said Dave Whitlinger, executive director of the New York-eHealth Collaborative, the coordinator of the Statewide Health Information Network of New York. “By making it easier for electronic health record systems to communicate, this new collaboration will help fulfill the promise of health information exchange, improving patient care and lowering healthcare costs.”

The IWG is a New York-led consortium of 19 states and 47 EHR and HIE vendors that was formed in 2011 to increase the adoption of EHRs and HIE services by eliminating the significant “interface” cost and time barrier.

The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) created, led, and financed the IWG, whose members work together to develop integrated EHR capabilities so that data sharing across and between states and health IT systems will be more compatible.

This collaboration is aimed at building on and accelerating consensus on national standards, adopting EHR certification criteria, and testing procedures as relevant for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. The collaboration will continue to provide feedback to the national health IT standard-setting initiatives established by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

To learn more about this new testing and certification program, visit the IWG website.