The Value of Interoperability Testing and Certification

by Amit Trivedi, ICSA Labs

Why another certification program?

In 2013, at the IHE North American Connectathon, IHE USA and ICSA Labs announced a new testing and certification program focused on interoperability and leveraging IHE Profiles or technical specifications.

New York eHealth Collaborative Digital Health Conference 2014

New York eHealth Collaborative Digital Health Conference 2014

One year later in 2014, HIMSS, IHE USA, the EHR|HIE Interoperability Working Group (IWG) and ICSA Labs announced a new strategic partnership that will take previous testing and certification to a new level – bringing the industry closer to reducing the need to build costly one-off customized interfaces and delivering robust, scalable, and secure exchange of patient data.

Amit V Trivedi

Amit V Trivedi

Why another certification program?

With billions of dollars in incentive funds as a driver – the federal EHR adoption program and associated meaningful use requirements have a firm hold on the attention of the health IT industry.  Many health IT vendors today are doing all they can to focus on testing and certification efforts related achieving ONC Health IT Certification so that their customers can meet requirements to obtain incentive funds. For some vendors, that doesn’t leave much room to focus on innovation or delivering features that fall outside of those core requirements.

At the same time, other vendors and system developers are left looking for an avenue to differentiate their products from the hundreds of other ONC-Certified technologies. All the while, providers are asking, “Where is the interoperability I was promised when I bought this product?”

The certification and testing program aims to build upon, complement, and consolidate existing efforts and targets those health IT systems that are:

  • currently available in the market,
  • able to go ‘above and beyond’ minimum requirements set by the federal government, and
  • truly meet the data exchange capabilities that healthcare providers need to deliver high quality and improved patient care.


Educational Webinar:  Learn more about the new IWG testing and certification program, Tuesday, March 3, 2015 9-10 a.m. CST.

James Younkin from Geisinger Health System will present a provider’s view on the need for certification testing, and Sandra Vance from HIMSS will explain how HIMSS Interoperability Services is facilitating the program.  Download the calendar invite. 


The four different entities involved in this collaboration – the IWG, IHE USA, HIMSS, and ICSA Labs – all bring to the table a unique set of strengths to make this initiative a success: from specification development, to deep technological expertise, channels to convene a wide array of stakeholders, and an understanding of what works and doesn’t work when it comes to delivering a testing and certification program to the industry.

Instead of creating a brand new set of standards and requirements and signaling yet another about-face for health IT system developers, this program is designed to complement existing US federal health IT strategies by building on a foundation that includes leveraging mature and proven industry standards, tightly specified to work at the implementation level.

Systems will go through rigorous, automated testing and certification will only be granted to those that are market-ready and capable of demonstrating support of high value specifications that help providers achieve and go beyond meaningful use requirements. An industry standard post-market surveillance program will help ensure that technologies function as intended. Products that successfully meet the certification requirements will be showcased within the HIMSS Innovation Center.

HIMSS Innovation Center, Cleveland, Ohio

HIMSS Innovation Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Ultimately, for purchasers and users of health IT, this certification program will result in increased confidence that technologies will meet advanced interoperability requirements by simplifying and better informing the decision making process.

IHE North American Connectathon 2015

If the IHE North American Connectathon 2015 is a place where vendors and system developers are allowed to fail without fear, this new certification program will provide them an opportunity to push their successes into the marketplace and better serve healthcare providers.

Learn more about the new IWG pilot testing and certification program launching this month.

Share your thoughts about health IT certification here on the HIMSS Blog.

Amit Trivedi is Program Manager, Healthcare, ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon. 


This entry was posted in Blogging, Health IT, HIMSS Events, Innovation Center, Interoperability & Standards and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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