Standard for portable health records is published

AAFP Center for Health IT

One of the largest standards-making organizations has published a continuity of care record standard (CCR), which will make it easier for health providers to exchange important information about patients’ health status.

The standard had been in development for several years and was officially adopted in 2005. It can now be downloaded from the ASTM International Web site or obtained on paper.

Dr. David Kibbe, director of the Center for Health Information Technology at the American Academy of Family Physicians, said his organization is promoting use of the standard, which has evolved from a paper form used by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health when patients were transferring between hospitals and nursing homes.

The CCR is a summary of the patient’s record, rather than a detailed list of each doctor’s visit or treatment received. It lists the patient’s health problems or ailments and the medications that have been prescribed. The standard is based on the Extensible Markup Language.

Kibbe’s organization wants electronic health records (EHRs) vendors to add CCR capabilities to their software products and wants doctors and other health professionals to use the CCR when their patients are headed for other physicians or health clinics. The CCR also can create a personal health record that can be given to a departing patient.

“The whole idea is to cross professional boundaries,” said Mark Diehl, leader of an ASTM health IT committee. He said the American Dental Association is working on a CCR implementation to exchange patient records between dentists and physicians.

Kibbe said the New Orleans Health Department will create health records for citizens using the CCR, and recently, a chain of health clinics operating inside drug stores decided to use the CCR.

There has been some controversy because its functions overlap with part of the health level -7 (HL-7) standard set for EHRs, and the two standards are not compatible.

However, representatives of the two standards bodies have been meeting to develop a translation technique, technically known as a transform, which will enable systems using either standard to exchange information.

Kibbe said he hoped there would be substantial progress on that project this year.

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