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Electronic health record interoperability collaboration gathers steam

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The board of directors of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has decided to throw its weight behind an industry collaboration to accelerate electronic health record interoperability.

The board of directors of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has decided to throw its weight behind an industry collaboration to accelerate electronic health record interoperability.

A coordinated set of activities would provide an HL7 implementation guide and launch a new patient care coordination IHE domain, with demonstrated interoperability of medical summary documents, by January 2006. The leadership of HIMSS, Health Level Seven, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, and the HIMSS EHR Vendors Association worked together to establish the collaboration.

The first items on the collaboration's agenda will be the creation and management of standardized medical summaries and other clinical templates. The interoperability collaboration will tackle transfer summaries and discharge records to smooth the transition patients make when they are discharged from one hospital and must be admitted into another, said Joyce Sensmeier, director of professional services at HIMSS.

Representatives involved in the first steps of the collaborative process came from the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Massachusetts Medical Society, American Medical Association, and the Alliance for Nursing Informatics. They were joined by physicians, nurses, pharmacists, standards developers, and information technology and healthcare informatics experts.

Meetings in late April collected input on use cases that will serve as the foundation for the standards, implementation guides, and related integration profiles now under development.

Future collaboration efforts will take on medication lists and other pharmacy-related interoperability issues, Sensemeiyer said.

"One of the primary reasons for HIMSS participation in this collaboration is the importance of interoperability in helping to achieve the national agenda of widespread EHR implementation within the next decade," she said.

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