HHS sees incorporating health care standards into FIPS

HHS Health IT Standards RFP

The National Institute for Standards and Technology will work to add electronic health standards to a new series of Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). NIST officials will also incorporate certified electronic health record (EHR) systems developed under contract proposals released today by the Department of Health and Human Services

According to the statements of work in the requests for proposals, NIST will consider whether a contractor’s list of standards is ready for governmentwide use. The RFP for certification of EHR systems and software contained similar language. It added that the next version of FIPS will be based on public and private recommendations from the American Health Information Community, a public/private organization announced yesterday by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. The community will lead the development of a nationwide electronic health care system.

Dr. David Brailer, the national coordinator for health information technology, said the agency will use the results from the two standards and certification contracts to help develop a model of what a standards-based “commercially available electronic health record should look like.”

In its certification RFP, HHS estimated that there are “more than 200 EHR products available, no single definition of an EHR and no criteria to evaluate EHR functionality and interoperability.”

Dr. Mark Leavitt -- no relation to HHS’ Leavitt -- chairman of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, an umbrella organization with members from the health care and IT communities, said this reflects the state of standards and certification in health care IT, which has many standards but has lacked the guidance to ensure the standards are truly plug and play.

HHS also released an RFP today for development of a Nationwide Health Information Network architecture. The proposal includes a requirement for a prototype network linking three distinct health markets. The network would demonstrate capabilities such as user authentication and access control, among others.

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