A Busy Year Ahead for the ICSA Labs Healthcare Program
March 4, 2013
By Amit Trivedi, ICSA Labs, Program Manager-Healthcare


As I write this blog, ICSA Labs’ healthcare team is gearing up for HIMSS13 on March 3-7 in New Orleans. Our HIMSS presence will include booths in the main Verizon area, the Interoperability Showcase, and the Meaningful Use Experience. We encourage folks to stop by, meet the team, and hopefully we can answer any questions you may have. We’re also speaking at a number of sessions throughout the week.

We have several other irons in the fire. Let me recap some significant milestones.

2014 Edition Pilot Testing

Recently, ICSA Labs organized a week of pilot testing to the 2014 Edition criteria for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) HIT Certification Program. In anticipation of the program launch in January 2013, the healthcare team and four qualified vendors spent a week working through the draft test methods and testing tools, in order to provide the ONC important feedback from both the vendor and HIT test lab perspective, and to also get a better understanding of the time and effort 2014 Edition Testing would require. Thanks again to the vendors who supported the 2014 Edition pilot testing: Dynamic Health IT, Eprosystem, MTBC, and Glenwood Systems.

Lessons Learned

As we analyzed the results of the pilot testing, it was obvious that ONC had raised the bar in a number of areas, and that a typical test for a 2014 Edition Complete EHR would look dramatically different. Among the key findings and takeaways:

  • More criteria – 49 criteria make up the 2014 Edition set as opposed to 42 criteria for the 2011 Edition.
  • More standards – almost 60% of the criteria for 2014 Edition reference a required standard as opposed to less than 50% of the criteria for 2011 Edition.
  • More test data – almost 60% of the criteria included ONC-supplied test data as opposed to a little over 30% of the criteria for 2011 Edition. 
  • More use of test tools – There are 9 different test tools used for a number of different criteria that range from ePrescribing, HL7 lab messaging, CCDA, and the DIRECT protocol that require conformance testing. Only 2 main sets of tools were available for 2011 Edition testing – HL7 v2 tools and CCD/CCR validation tools.


All of this points to an increase in time and resources necessary to prepare for and conduct 2014 Edition certification testing. Applicants will be required to support more specific standards and implementation guides, enter more test data prior to and during the test sessions and become familiar with more test tools. This is all reflected in the test sessions themselves, which will now span two full days of testing for a Complete EHR.

2014 Edition Program Launch

The new program launched in January – and the first 2014 Edition products have already been certified. Dynamic Health IT’s Connect EHR 1.0, attained both ambulatory and inpatient modular 2014 Edition EHR Certification, and Montrue Technologies Sparrow EDIS 1.0 attained 2014 Edition modular inpatient EHR certification. To date, only four vendors had attained 2014 Edition certification, and two of them are ICSA Labs customers.

As with 2011 Edition testing, ICSA Labs has developed specific material to support our customers as they prepare for certification testing. The healthcare team prides itself on our responsiveness and how well we prepare our customers for testing, and with the increased rigor of 2014 Edition testing, we aim to work that much harder to deliver. The 2014 Edition test scripts ICSA Labs has developed are clear to follow and easy to interpret, include integrated references to helpful guidance information for every test procedure, links to the sanctioned test tools, and pointers as to when you can save time by entering certain test data in advance of the test session. ICSA Labs also continues to offer pre-validation of files that are required for conformance testing as well as a pre-staging session prior to the actual test session. There are a number of potential discounts that customers can qualify for – whether you have tested with ICSA Labs previously, or whether you have tested and certified your product with another ONC-ACB. Contact ICSA Labs to begin the registration process to obtain 2014 Edition certification.

2013 NA Connectathon

The New Year also ushered in new collaboration. ICSA Labs announced a new agreement with IHE USA to offer certification services at IHE USA’s annual interoperability testing event, the North American Connectathon. At the end of last month, the healthcare team convened in Chicago to begin a pilot test program that would test and certify health IT products that met selected IHE integration profile requirements.

IHE USA is a non-profit organization that drives adoption of standards-based interoperability to improve patient care. IHE integration profiles also provide significant underpinnings to ONC specifications. Certification for products that integrate IHE integration profiles will give purchasers of health IT products independent third-party assurance that there is a credible, repeatable testing process, and that these products will exhibit the robust capabilities for data exchange and security that the industry demands.

One of the important benefits of IHE USA certification is that testing and certification will apply to products beyond traditional EHR technologies, which are the focus of the ONC HIT Certification Program and the EHR adoption incentives. Medical devices, health information exchanges, health information service providers, and other products that are crucial to the healthcare ecosystem will now have an opportunity to be independently tested and certified to interoperability, privacy and security requirements as specified by IHE integration profiles.

The pilot testing at the Connectathon is complete, and now the testing team is analyzing the results of the pilot testing and moving on to our next steps: drafting an evaluation report of the pilot process, refining the test manual, finalizing test results reports for the actors and profiles tested at the Connectathon, and preparing to submit that information to the ICSA Labs Certification Body for evaluation.

There’s much to be excited for in the Health IT world. As you can see it’s shaping up to be a busy year, and we’ve barely gotten started!


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