EHR 'roadmap' guides providers through transporting content

To help healthcare providers and other stakeholders connect their electronic health records (EHRs) more quickly, members of HIMSS' Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) have completed a white paper providing a type of roadmap for health data exchanges.

In the paper, EHRA notes that it has supported the development of recent interoperability standards at the federal level, but says that the focus mainly has been on health data content. Meaningful Use of EHR systems won't be realized, it says, unless attention is paid to the specific standards needed to transport this content.

The paper presents five primary "transport use" cases: the first three address point-to-point data exchanges, while the last two look at information sharing.

The objective of the white paper is to engage health IT stakeholders "in an open dialog about how best to achieve real interoperability" for the transport of health information. The overall paper represents the collective view of the 46 EHRA member companies that support the majority of installed, operational EHRs in the United States.

The white paper recommendations are based on the use of proven standards, EHRA says, and build on the work that has been done by Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, the Direct Project, and the Nationwide Health Information Network.

The approaches recommend protection of patient privacy and support "modern, internet-based XML protocols that can seamlessly connect providers and EHRs across the full spectrum of size and complexity," said Charlie Jarvis, vice president of health services and government relations at NextGen, and EHRA's vice chair.

These standards open up "significant opportunities to create a more comprehensive connection to public health and other state-based initiatives, including immunization registries," Jarvis added.

For more information:
- see the EHRA white paper (.pdf)
- view the Health Data Management article