Standards development organization Health Level Seven has begun a pilot program to offer standardized interoperability testing to health care software vendors, providers and payers to reduce the cost of connectivity while improving its quality.

The organization believes that products from different vendors that are tested for conformance to the same standards have a higher likelihood of interoperability. The health care community, says HL7 CEO Charles Jaffe, M.D, needs an easier low-cost connectivity solution that can be replicated among trading partners.

The organization has teamed with AEGIS, a developer of technology for interoperability testing, to roll out a pilot program of the new HL7 Conformance Testing Program. Vendors can enter their connectivity coding on a Web-based testing system that checks for standards-based conformance and offers improvements, Jaffe told Health Data Management during a talk at HIMSS14. In the pilot, the program will test one connectivity profile--linking to immunization registries as required under Stage 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program.

Vendors and organizations that have tested the immunization registry profile include Cerner, GE Healthcare, Epic, Siemens, Healtheway, Deaconess Beth Israel Hospital, the Department of Defense and Kaiser Permanente, Jaffe says.

There is no charge for the testing between now and September, at which time HL7 hopes to have tests available for admission/discharge/transfer, laboratory and Clinical Document Architecture transactions. CDA documents could include discharge summary, imaging, admission & physical, and pathology reports, among other documents, according to HL7. Also available for testing by September will be FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource), a toolkit available on the HL7 Web site and designed to speed development and deployment of an interoperability project.

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