HIMSS: New interoperability standard aids movement to enterprise imaging


Hospital systems are increasing moving to a centralized data platform to tie together imaging, reports, electronic medical record (EMR) data, and labs from all departments so it is accessible in one location. On the radiology side this means a movement to enterprise imaging systems where all departments can share data storage to make it easier to share images from radiology, cardiology, pathology, and across other departments.

Health Imaging spoke with Christina Caraballo, MBA, Health Information management Systems Society (HIMSS) vice president of informatics, during the HIMSS 2023 annual meeting. She said new IT integration standards across health IT will soon include new standards to make it easier to access images outside of radiology PACS. She said enterprise imaging was also among the late-breaking presentations at the meeting.

The Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC) recommends national policy decisions to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology. These include new standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria relating to the implementation of a health information technology infrastructure and data exchange. Caraballo said HITAC recently included three new imaging data elements for the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) standardized set of health data classifications.

She said this is important because the USCDI provides the baseline for interoperability for all health IT systems. It shows that imaging is now gaining recognition as a field that needs more interoperability, as images from across the enterprise are being connected to EMRs for more complete patient records. 

"It is really exciting because the USCDI is the base for all IT standards, so imaging is being brought forward as a central data element for consideration," Caraballo explained. 

She said radiology groups like the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) have led the way to help push for establishing standardization in medical imaging IT for the past 20 years through the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) radiology domain.

She said it is interesting that the new USCDI imaging standards are designed for health IT systems across the board, not just specifically for radiology PACS, so it signals that there is a growing need to incorporate better interoperability for imaging across enterprise EMR systems. 

"This seems like a big one to me, as it is more mature because RSNA has done a good job of spearheading this work. There is still work to be done, but identifying on a national level the need for a broad exchange around imaging is really exciting," she said.

She said another area health IT leaders are talking about that will have an impact on data exchange is the Trusted Exchange Framework Common Agreement (TEFCA). Included in the 2016 21st Century Cures Act, it establishes a rules-of-the-road for technical infrastructure model IT governance for different health information networks and their users to securely share clinical information with each other across the U.S.

"All of our hospitals are going to be required to join this network, which will be a way to scale and exchange data in a very secure way. So I am really looking forward to seeing what comes out of that as it is rolled out," Caraballo said. 

Dave Fornell is a digital editor with Cardiovascular Business and Radiology Business magazines. He has been covering healthcare for more than 16 years.

Dave Fornell is a healthcare journalist who has covered cardiology and radiology for more than 17 years, with a focus in cardiology and radiology. Fornell is a 5-time winner of a Jesse H. Neal Award, the most prestigious editorial honors in the field of specialized journalism. The wins included best technical content, best use of social media and best COVID-19 coverage. Fornell was also a three-time Neal finalist for best range of work by a single author. He produces more than 100 editorial videos each year, most of them interviews with key opinion leaders in medicine. He also writes technical articles, covers key trends, conducts video hospital site visits, and is very involved with social media. E-mail: dfornell@innovatehealthcare.com

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