CHICAGO (November 13, 2007) –  Recognizing the benefits of interoperability in healthcare, the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Vendors Association (EHRVA) at has released its Quick Start Guide for the ASTM/HL7 Continuity of Care Document (CCD) standard. The association developed the guide, which is available at no charge at on the EHRVA Web site, as a resource to help hasten interoperability in healthcare.

“We created the Quick Start Guide as a resource to expedite further adoption of the CCD standard because our members recognize interoperability as both an EHRVA and industry goal,” said Jack Smyth, EHRVA communications work group co-chair and president and CEO of Spring Medical Systems in Houston, Texas.  “We believe this standard can help move interoperability ahead.”  To develop the guide, several EHRVA members worked collaboratively with Alschuler Associates, LLC, an independent consulting firm that also developed the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) Quick Start Guide and, in conjunction with the EHRVA, the CDA/CRS Quick Start Guide and CDA Validator. (

Smyth explained that the vendors group has worked in conjunction with other organizations to help this standard evolve.  “We are proud of those efforts because we feel it has helped focus our current involvement with the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), Health Level Seven (HL7), Health Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE).” 

"Through the volunteer efforts of organizations such as the HIMSS EHRVA, the standards development process of HITSP continues to be successful," said Dr. John Halamka, chair of HITSP, and CIO of Harvard Medical School. "With EHRVA member companies of all sizes working to implement the HITSP specifications in their products, the road to nationwide interoperability should be easier to navigate."

Results of an EHRVA member survey taken in June also indicated that 76 percent of the association's members expected the CCD to be required in the 2008 CCHIT criteria."

“Interoperability represents one of the founding objectives of CCHIT,” said Smyth, “and the CCD standard simplifies the path to interoperable electronic health records.” 

Announced in February 2007, the Continuity of Care Document represents collaboration between HL7 and ASTM International, which are two standards development organizations.  The CCD standard has been recognized by many in the industry as a catalyst to interoperability because it:

  • specifies the relevant ambulatory clinical content that appears in the approved interoperability specifications developed by the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP)
  • reduces development and user maintenance costs since it uses the same base standard (HL7 CDA R2) that must be used in all electronic claims attachments in the forthcoming Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule
  • establishes templates for section-level content that is reused in IHE Profiles and HL7 Implementation Guides for Discharge Summary, History & Physical, Consult and many other common types of electronic documents

“As an association, we want to ensure better healthcare,” said Don Schoen, chair of the EHRVA and CEO of ambulatory EHR provider MediNotes in Des Moines, Iowa.  Schoen also noted the sensitivity to the size of EHR vendor companies. “We want to ensure an easy and effective way for companies of any size to understand, develop and implement this standard.”  Schoen further commented that the EHRVA recognizes the CCD standard as one of the easiest and most essential components of communicating healthcare data between providers.

“Achieving interoperability in healthcare demands the cooperation and expertise of all of us in the industry,” said H. Stephen Lieber, CEO/president of the Healthcare Information and Management System.  “The EHRVA’s CCD Quick Start Guide offers a valuable resource and reference that will contribute to the accelerated adoption of health IT.”  To educate interested users of the guide, HIMSS and the EHRVA will provide instructional materials both online and through teleconferences.  

Visit to review and download the EHRVA Quick Start Guide for the Continuity of Care Document.


HIMSS EHRVA is a trade association of Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors that join together to lead the health information technology industry in the accelerated adoption of EHRs in hospital and ambulatory care settings in the US. Representing a substantial portion of the installed EHR systems in the US, the association provides a forum for the vendor community to speak with a unified voice relative to standards development, the EHR certification process, interoperability, performance and quality measures, and other EHR issues as they become subject to increasing government, insurance and provider driven initiatives and requests. Membership is open to HIMSS corporate members with legally formed companies designing, developing and marketing their own commercially available EHRs with installations in the US. The association, comprised of more than 40 member companies, is a partner of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and operates as an organizational unit within HIMSS.  For more information, visit


The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is the healthcare industry's membership organization exclusively focused on providing global leadership for the optimal use of healthcare information technology (IT) and management systems for the betterment of healthcare. Founded in 1961 with offices in Chicago, Washington D.C., Brussels, and other locations across the United States and Europe, HIMSS represents more than 20,000 individual members and over 300 corporate members that collectively represent organizations employing millions of people. HIMSS frames and leads healthcare public policy and industry practices through its advocacy, educational and professional development initiatives designed to promote information and management systems’ contributions to ensuring quality patient care. Visit for more information.