IHE USA Drives Interoperability for Local Health Initiatives

Public Health is Local: Interoperability and the COVID-19 Response

Enduring and emerging urgent health data needs drive public and private sector players to advance interoperability initiatives

Across the world, individual localities are responding to an unprecedented global public health emergency impacting individuals and populations. The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that health data must be interoperable to respond to this urgent threat and continue to optimally deliver care.

Localities, at the state, regional, and national level are working with healthcare providers and public health officials to rapidly implement contact tracing and syndromic surveillance. Clinical informaticists work to effectively integrate immunization information systems with health systems’ electronic health record (EHR)s to ensure these vital databases interact with each other successfully and efficiently. Providers work tirelessly to respond to health data interoperability needs related to healthcare emergencies within their communities. Actionable engineering and education to help support these local initiatives is part of the work IHE USA performs to realize its mission and vision.

How is IHE USA Partnering to Help Advance the Nation’s Interoperability?

IHE USA is the national deployment committee of the standards development organization IHE International. IHE USA engages the US-based health IT community to adopt and use world-class standards, tools, and services for interoperability to deliver on its vision of improved quality, value, and safety in healthcare by enabling rapid, scalable, and secure access to health information at the point of care.

Here are some current IHE USA initiatives and partnerships that support the development of the public health IT infrastructure in the US:

  • MedMorph

MedMorph (Making EHR Data More Available for Research and Public Health) is a Centers for Disease Control & Prevention project whose goal is to create a reliable, scalable, and interoperable method to get EHR data for multiple public health and research scenarios (use cases). The development of a reference architecture and demonstrated implementation aims to reduce the burden on healthcare providers and provide the standards and methods to receive and send data from EHRs for a variety of public health and research purposes.

In partnership with the CDC and MedMorph, IHE USA facilitated a Local Health Standards Acceleration session at the March 2021 IHE North American Connectathon with 14 vendors, including eHealth Exchange, CAP, CA Cancer Registry, mTuitive, and Epic. The effort focused on supporting balloting requirements for CDC’s HL7 MedMorph Implementation Guide, including components to test eCase Reporting, Health Surveys, Vital Records and Cancer registry reporting. IHE USA’s support enabled the CDC’s MedMorph team to analyze data elements from their multiple use cases and identify elements that were used by two or more use cases that weren’t included in the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI).This effort further drove the adoption of HL7’s FHIR standards through providing the collaboration and testing resources to the CDC’s MedMorph team to help the team ballot three FHIR Content Implementation Guides during the September 2021 HL7 ballot.

View IHE USA’s MedMorph Project Local Health Standards Acceleration event from March 2021 https://youtu.be/mbPM3OarZhQ

  • The SANER Project

The SANER Project is an open-source effort to streamline and accelerate real-time transmission of de-identified data among healthcare facilities, critical infrastructure, and governmental response authorities during public health emergencies and disasters. Using IHE USA’s North American Connectathon virtual testing platform, the SANER Project convened interoperability testing participants including Cerner, NHSN (National Healthcare Safety Network), CDC, Leidos, Lantana, Audacious Inquiry, and ESRI. Using the platform, current and future SANER participants were able to see a demonstration of current project progress and provided the SANER project team with the tools to help with implementation guide development, making it easier for provider organizations to implement SANER for their own eCase reporting needs. 

View IHE USA’s SANER Project Local Health Standards Acceleration event from March 2021. Part 1: Overview; Part 2: Demonstration; Part 3: How to Get Involved

  • IHE USA Cooperative Agreement with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT

As part of a multi-year cooperative agreement, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Integrating the Health Enterprise (IHE) USA are working together to accelerate the adoption of FHIR-based IHE integration profiles to drive the adoption of the FHIR standard in compliance with the 21st Century Cures Act.  The agreement  is designed to support the deployment of FHIR-based IHE integration profiles, as well as strengthening cross-organizational collaboration efforts between standards developing organizations (SDO), interoperability test tool developers, FHIR champions and other vital stakeholders.

How Can I Learn More About IHE USA’s Local Health Standards Acceleration Activities?

For more information on IHE USA’s Local Health Standards Acceleration Activities and how they can help support your US-based interoperability initiatives, contact Amit Trivedi at amit.trivedi@himss.org.