The new certification is a joint initiative of IHE USA and ICSA Labs and builds on specifications from the ONC. The program is designed to give purchasers of health IT products peace of mind that certified products are suitable for health data exchange and have passed tough interoperability requirements.
I asked Senior Integration Specialist Ben Levy, who led Corepoint Health’s efforts to become certified, about the testing involved with the certification, the importance of IHE profiles, and thoughts on how future Connectathons can be improved.
1. The new 2013 IHE USA Certification program recently announced the eight health IT vendors that were able to meet their rigorous security and interoperability requirements. Since you successfully spearheaded Corepoint Health’s application and testing process in Chicago earlier this year, can you describe how the testing process worked?
ben: the ihe connectathon tests compliance with ihe integration profiles. this allows testing and improvement of ihe profiles across many vendor systems, and lets vendors demonstrate that their applications successfully interoperate using those profiles. certification tested a select subset of those ihe integragion profiles, but the testing was much more detailed than the standard compliance testing.
corepoint health and the other vendors had to complete the compliance testing that is required of connectathon participants, then we had to survive extra scrutiny by icsa personnel. many of the compliance tests are partially or fully automated. certification involved icsa personnel witnessing the successful use of the ihe integration profiles in real time and validating details that connectathon compliance tests do not.
2. since the certification process occurred, you were selected to be a ihe usa committee member. after undergoing the ihe usa certification process, what type of suggestions, such as added testing or changes to the process, did you bring to the board?
ben: we suggested not certifying any pre-connectathon activities as it did not seem to apply to certification. we also encouraged icsa to automate some of their testing because time during connectathon week is precious and goes by quickly.
along the same lines, we suggested that they bring more people next year. 🙂
3. ihe profiles are key to health information exchange in the u.s., yet it seems there are few organizations – including formal hie organizations – successfully exchanging health data, and by exchanging i mean provider-to-provider exchange. what primary reasons do you think are preventing true data exchange?
ben: i heard someone say ten years ago that interoperability would not happen until it was either profitable or mandated. that has to be at least a contributing factor. without meaningful use mandates, ccd would not have the wide recognition it has today. likewise, xds, pix, and other ihe integration profiles have been around for years, but are just now showing up as features in products and line items in rfps.
privacy is something else that i hope is a factor. ihe integration profiles like xds make it much easier to share health data with entities outside your enterprise. but should you? did you get the patients’ consent? how do you do that, how do you track it, and how granular is that consent? hopefully people are considering these types of questions from a patient’s perspective.