Technology Overview

NEHEN's technologies enable the interoperability of health information systems. Regardless of whether it is administrative or clinical information, our tools move information reliably and securely from point to point and participant to participant, using open, non-proprietary, industry-standard protocols and formats.

The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandated standard formats for many healthcare administrative transactions, but it did not specify the mechanics of how those transactions should be exchanged. The HITECH subsection of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, which governs health information technology, set out similar guidelines for clinical information exchange without mandating the mechanics of that exchange either.

In order to close this gap, NEHEN develops tools to standardize the communications among its members and between its members and their major non-NEHEN exchange partners. This core NEHEN technology supports the exchange of health care transactions in a low cost, reliable, and standardized manner. NEHEN develops technology in accordance with current and emerging communications standards and strives to lead the country towards healthcare information liquidity.

At the heart of our technology suite are the NEHENADX and NEHENCDX gateways; robust routing engines that are relied upon by members to send millions of health information transactions securely and dependably. Building out from the NEHEN gatways are flexible adapter services that can be used to bridge the gap between legacy technologies such as mainframes, hospital information systems, and middleware, and the systems that members wish to exchange health information with.

Some key facts about NEHEN's technology architecture are:

  • NEHEN runs as a distributed, peer-to-peer network.
  • NEHEN's technology is member-driven. NEHEN builds what members want, and members can build upon the open suite of technologies using their own preferred technology tools.
  • NEHEN technology runs at every member site, where members determine how best to use it, and are free to customize it to suit their workflows.
  • NEHEN member systems are responsible for creating transactions according to the national standards; NEHEN technology handles routing and delivery.
  • NEHEN exchanges information using industry-standard, non-proprietary formats: ANSI X12 and HL7 2.5.x. They're not just supported, they're all we use.
  • NEHEN builds and supports common services to lower the cost of payer/provider electronic communications. Members each pay a portion of the total development costs, and all share the resulting innovations.
  • NEHEN encourages the use of lowest cost delivery mechanisms. It enables direct connectivity whenever possible, eliminating "middle men" and uses the Internet as much as possible to reduce the need for 3rd party or proprietary connectivity.
  • NEHEN is loosely-coupled and technology agnostic, requiring minimal intrusion into participants' information technology agendas.

More specifically, NEHEN provides secure transport and routing of two broad categories of industry-standard transactions:
ANSI X12 - all HIPAA-mandated transaction exchanges are supported by NEHEN technology, including the 270/271, 276/277, 278, 837i/p, 835, 997, and 277ACK.
ANSI HL7 - version 2.5.1 of several clinical transactions are supported, including the clinical summary (CDA R2 CCD), lab results, immunizations, and syndromic surveillance.

In addition, NEHEN has developed a tool that allows its members to create and send HIPAA administrative transactions to all NEHEN and other connected payers from a single web-based application called NEHENExpress or NEHENNet in the hosted model. This tool supplements traditional hospital and practice information systems and allows members to take advantage of electronic transactions without waiting for upgrades to their existing systems.

NEHEN Technology Overview

1. Your staff enters clinical or administrative data into their native applications or into NEHENExpress.
2. Information flows seamlessly from your information systems through our adapter services and into the NEHENADX or CDX gateway installed in your own data center.
3. Your health information is sent to its intended recipient, and any responses are delivered back through to your instance of NEHEN for retention or further processing by your own information systems.

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An Overview of NEHEN NEHEN's core technology allows you to communicate directly with your exchange partners without transaction fees. It's a standards-based, peer-to-peer health information exchange (HIE) platform that allows you to integrate with your own information systems, regardless of whether they're custom-built or a commercial product.