In April 2015, HIMSS launched ConCert by HIMSS, a testing and certification program that assures secure and reliable transfer of data among electronic health records, health information exchanges and health information service providers within and across organizational and state boundaries.
Think about a patient’s medical exam visit with a primary care physician who wants to review recent test results sent from another doctor, a specialist. The doctor opens his patient’s electronic health information and easily finds the information without logging in and out of multiple computer systems, an interoperable infrastructure enabled by ConCert by HIMSS.
Building on the work of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup (IWG) and IHE USA, as well as EHR certification criteria and testing procedures for Meaningful Use Stage 2, ConCert by HIMSS offers a unique, independent seal of approval for EHR and health information exchange systems. ICSA Labs serves as the testing and certification body for this effort.
The program addresses an all too familiar obstacle in today’s health care system: Many IT systems cannot connect with each other, creating the need for costly and custom interfaces to be built each time systems are interconnected.
Thus, for the greatest impact on the quality of health care delivery, IT systems in individual physician practices, hospitals, clinics, labs and radiology centers must seamlessly and easily exchange data. This interchange requires a consistent and standard way of connecting to each other.
Clinicians rely on interoperable health IT systems when it comes to finding electronic patient data stored in different locations and systems, such as images from radiology, records from an emergency department visit and a medication list from a primary care provider. Interoperability means these IT systems electronically share data that caregivers can easily access through the patient’s health record.
“We find we often don’t have the needed information to take care of our patients,” said Dr. Patricia L. Hale, associate medical director for informatics, Albany Medical Center. She is a member of the ConCert by HIMSS Advisory Committee and HIMSS North America Board of Directors. Her comments come from an April 13 HIMSS webinar she hosted with representatives of three companies that have earned certification from ConCert by HIMSS.
Companies with the ConCert by HIMSS seal of approval are:
Three of the companies now holding the certification mark of ConCert by HIMSS talked about their certification strategies during a recent HIMSS webinar. They mentioned the value of the IHE North American Connectathon held in January each year at the Global Center for Health Innovation, HIMSS Innovation Center and Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, an event cited as a pathway to the ConCert certification program.
“We have enjoyed the collaborative environment that exists at the North American Connectathon. It is refreshing to see this level of collaboration between vendors, and the experience gained at the event definitely prepared us to go to the next level of interoperable connectivity with the ConCert certification,” said Ron Shapiro, chief technology officer with Qvera, who cites the Connectathon as a pathway to earning the certification mark.
“When challenged with making our system interoperable with other systems, we found it was a very difficult test. The ConCert by HIMSS certification helped develop the interfaces we needed between two systems, said Shahab Shaikh, senior technology officer with iPatientCare, the first company to earn the certification mark from ConcCert by HIMSS.
“ConCert by HIMSS is the next evolution in data exchange and interoperability specifications, because it is truly helping the provider make better decisions at the point of care,” said Matthew Asif, chief commercial officer, MEDfx
Achieving secure, electronic data exchange
Dr. Hale explained data exchange is more than software design because systems must actually be able to share the data.
“Testing between IT systems is crucial and helps ensure people can share data. ConCert by HIMSS addresses those issues, which is a big step forward that many in the clinical world will benefit from. Physicians are asking and looking for products that will make their IT systems interoperable, which is what this certification program offers.