NEW YORK, April 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) today announced that it has been awarded a cooperative agreement by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to participate in the Exemplar HIE Governance Program on behalf of the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup. The cooperative agreement will allow the workgroup to continue its efforts in developing robust implementation specifications for 'plug and play' interoperability. The workgroup will address the implementation challenges facing the exchange of health information including patient matching and querying provider directories. These learnings will translate into stronger implementation specifications and will support, strengthen, and advance existing ONC efforts to improve the standards for Direct Messaging and Query-based exchange. The EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup (IWG) is a NYeC-led coalition of 19 States (representing 52% of the U.S. population), 20 electronic health record (EHR) vendors, and 22 health information exchange (HIE) vendors. The workgroup was launched in February 2011 to leverage existing standards and develop consistent implementation guides to support interoperability between HIE software platforms, and the applications that interface with them. Over the last two years, the IWG's coalition of partners have been working collaboratively to develop specifications and promulgate standards that support plug and play health IT functionality for interoperability. The IWG has announced the "HIE Certified" certification program for vendors to test against these specifications. The goal of the program is to make it simple for healthcare providers to know that when they buy a health IT system it has all the components required for plug and play interoperability. The Exemplar HIE Governance Program allows the ONC to work collaboratively with entities already involved in governance of health information exchange, encouraging the continued development and adoption of policies, interoperability requirements, and business practices that will increase the ease of electronic health information exchange, reduce implementation costs, and assure the privacy and security of data being exchanged. This work will support and advance the efforts of existing governance entities which will benefit consumers and providers by allowing health information to flow securely between unaffiliated healthcare organizations.