Summary: IHE USA President confirms to Connectathon Monitors that motivation is Meaningful Use.
One of the complaints I have had about the IHE Certification announcements is the poor communication about it, and particularly the Connectathon monitors.
Belatedly, last night a message was sent out to the IHE NA Connectathon Monitors, on behalf of Joyce Sensmeier from HIMSS, President of IHE USA.
Reading beyond the feel-good marketing hype, some phrases stand out like "certification in the US market is already a reality", "this certification program makes IHE a visible part of that process", "highlights the relevance of IHE's profiles" and "provide ... components of meaningful use Stage 3".
Desperation hypothesis confirmed.
I gather, by the way, that ONC folks will be coming to visit the Connectathon for the usual dog-and-pony show, and no doubt their attention will be specifically directed to the ICSA Labs efforts, as a sign that IHE is taking ONC seriously, or something. I bet they will get a laugh in private out of these last minute hand waving attempts to demonstrate relevance (they may not be IHE true believers, but they are certainly not morons). I would also be surprised if it influenced them one iota. I am sure they are well aware that the addition of certification does not magically vindicate the underlying standards or technologies. As enamored as they are of picking and choosing and modifying or reinventing bits and pieces of standards to create their own certification criteria, certification specifically for MU is not going to magically disappear because IHE certifies too.
It is a shame that total obsession with the US EHR Meaningful Use market is triggering an enthusiasm for certification that will contaminate the global market place for all forms of medical technology, raising healthcare costs everywhere.
Still, I have to give Joyce credit for finally having the courtesy to brief the worker bees, so here is the full text of her message:
"Greetings IHE 2013 North American Connectathon monitors,
As you have likely heard, IHE USA has announced a new program <https://www.icsalabs.com/ihe> that will offer certification to complement existing testing of conformance to IHE integration profiles. This new service will be delivered through a strategic partnership between IHE USA and ICSA Labs, and will commence in a pilot program at the 2013 North American Connectathon <http://www.iheusa.org/learnmore.aspx>. IHE USA is pleased to be working with ICSA Labs as we share the goal and experience of accelerating the adoption of usable, secure, and interoperable health information technology, to enable the improvement of patient safety and delivery of higher quality of care. Certification in the US market is already a reality. This certification program makes IHE a visible part of that process. It highlights the relevance of IHE's profiles and their ability to provide substantial interoperability components of meaningful use Stage 3 and any programs that might build on or succeed it.
The IHE North American Connectathon continues to play a pivotal role in allowing the opportunity for HIT vendors to validate their implementation of IHE profiles and help demonstrate compliance with interoperability leading to information exchange. The addition of a certification track will provide a continuum that adds independent third-party assurance that there is a credible, repeatable process that ensures quality, and that these products will exhibit the robust capabilities for optimal data exchange and security that are demanded by our industry today. Certification testing is an elective service and not required for any Connectathon participant. The intent of the certification pilot is to provide a proof of concept for vendors that choose to participate, and lay the groundwork for the ability for products to be certified for interoperability under ISO standards.
We are engaging knowledgeable parties from within IHE to help define the interface between the Connectathon process and certification. This pilot will be conducted separately, but will be convened in the same general location as the 2013 North American Connectathon process that you will be monitoring. The intent is that the pilot activities will not conflict with ongoing Connectathon testing, nor should these activities increase your burden as volunteer monitors during the pilot process over the week. Additionally, IHE USA, as a deployment committee of IHE International, will be providing oversight of the certification program to ensure confidentiality and safeguard any relevant IHE intellectual property. In addition, IHE USA will indemnify its agents (including monitors and contractors) from any liability resulting from testing and certification.
To provide you with a better understanding of this effort we are developing a message to address Frequently Asked Questions. This will be sent by Steve and Lynn in the coming days.
Thank you for your ongoing support of IHE USA as it hosts the 2013 North American Connectathon and have a wonderful holiday!
Joyce and the IHE USA and 2013 North American Connectathon team
Joyce Sensmeier MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN
President, IHE USA"
So there you have it straight from the horse's mouth. Or whatever end you think it is coming from.
Saturnalia optima tibi exopto.
PS. I also got a personal response from RSNA staff leadership on the subject, which reiterates many of the same points Joyce made in more detail, but since it wasn't an official announcement to a large group, I won't promulgate it. I mention this because, sadly in my opinion, the imaging leadership that championed much of the development of IHE in the first place seems to have turned its back on its core constituency and seems to be towing the HIMSS-driven party line. If I were a major imaging equipment vendor, I would be supremely pissed, and I am looking forward to seeing what MITA's response on certification is, if any. Though after MITA's pitiful failure to comment on MU2 thanks to GE's veto, they may have already lost both their credibility and relevance.