[Blog Post] How IHE USA Supports HIMSS’ COVID-19 Global Policy Call to Action

2 years 10 months ago

In October 2020, HIMSS released its COVID-19 Global Policy Call to Action Report.  The report called for five policy recommendations to be enacted to support the global response to COVID-19.   The Call to Action consists of five key global policy strategic actions and seeks stakeholders across the globe to advocate for these health IT policies to ensure a safe, flexible, standards-based health information data ecosystem can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future global health emergencies.   

The five COVID-19 Global Policy Strategic Actions are:

  1. Establish a Flexible and Adaptable Healthcare Environment
  2. Build a Foundation of Interoperable Platforms To Facilitate Broad-Based Data Exchange
  3. Ensure That Privacy Security and Cybersecurity Protocols Meet the Needs of Current or Pending Crises
  4. Enhance Global Disease Surveillance and Data Analytics Capacity
  5. Visualize Future Permanent Health System Changes

Using IHE Connectathons to Move Global Data Sharing Forward

Over the past eighteen months, IHE USA has taken action to respond to HIMSS’ Global Policy Strategic Action #2 Build a Foundation of Interoperable Platforms to Facilitate Broad-Based Data Exchange.  Working in collaboration with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), IHE Europe, IHE Japan, and the Sequoia Project, IHE USA enhanced its virtual, comprehensive open-source test management platform, Gazelle, to provide health IT developers with access to over 20 interoperability conformance testing tools all in one location.

It also expanded its North American Connectathon to virtually co-host a series of theme-focused testing, education deep dives, demonstrations, and hands-on development activities focus on creating driving action on global health cross-border data exchange initiatives like the International Patient Summary and local health interoperability efforts like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s MedMorph (Making EHR Data More Available for Research and Public Health) Project.

Supporting Health Information Exchange through Best Practice Guidance

As part of its cooperative agreement with the ONC, IHE USA also released two best practice guides for Health Information Exchanges to support better public health data sharing while working to support its networks’ provider organizations in their response to COVID-19 outbreaks.

The purpose of this white paper is to provide an overview of the collection of IHE profiles which are intended to be used by communities for exchanging health information. The collection of profiles includes support for patient identification, health document location and retrieval, provider directories, and the protection of privacy and security. This white paper will show how various profiles work together to provide a standards based, interoperable approach to community and cross-community health information sharing.

This reference guide acts as a comprehensive resource that aggregates the disparate IHE profiles and support tools and points developers directly towards the insights and materials that are relevant to their implementations. This book is arranged around the needs of specific software products that participate in a health information network so developers can focus their attention on the information they need, without getting lost in the details that everyone else who might use an IHE profile would also want.

Developing Standards to Support Data Exchange

IHE Integration Profiles are guides that provide a common language for purchasers and vendors to define the integration needs of healthcare settings and the integration capabilities of health IT products. IHE profiles provide healthcare professionals seeking to acquire or upgrade systems a convenient, reliable tool that reduces the complexity, cost and anxiety of implementing interoperable systems by offering a way to specify a level of compliance to standards sufficient to achieve truly efficient interoperability.

Over the past year and half, the IHE USA Cooperative Agreement project team has engaged stakeholders across the health IT industry to update and drive adoption of the following IHE Integration Profiles focused on data exchange.

Profile Name


Mobile Access to Health Documents (MHD)

Defines one standardized interface to health documents (a.k.a. an API) for use by mobile devices so that deployment of mobile applications is more consistent and reusable

Mobile Care Services Discovery (mCSD)

Supports discovery of care services

resources using a RESTful interface in interrelated, federated environments

Patient Identifier Cross-Reference for Mobile Integration (PIXm)

Provides a transaction for mobile and lightweight browser-based applications to query a Patient Identifier Cross-Reference Manager for a list of patient identifiers based on the patient identifier in a different domain and retrieve a patient’s cross-domain identifiers information into the application

Paramedicine Care Summary (PCS)

Provides the structures and transactions for sending the patient's paramedicine encounter information to the receiving facility

Quality Outcome Reporting for EMS (QORE)

Uses a query and a SEND transaction to move quality measurement data across several EMR entities that will allow for these data to be used for quality and registry measurement for Hospitals and emergency medical system (EMS) companies.

Referral Interfacility Patient Transport (RIPT)

Provides a methodology for a standard approach to share post-discharge documentation to the EMS transport team that informs them of important patient care information.

Time to Take Global Action

Our modern health data ecosystem has never been asked to serve on the scale that the COVID-19 pandemic has called for.  Now is the time to lend your expertise to a global organization whose vision is to enable seamless and secure access to health information that is usable whenever and wherever needed.

Learn more how you can get involved with IHE USA’s efforts to combat COVID-19.  Contact Adam Bazer, Senior Technical Manager, Health IT Standards at HIMSS at adam.bazer@himss.org for more information on how your organization can join with IHE USA to support improved data exchange. 


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