Health IT standards panel creates workgroups

Law establishes $17 billion in incentive payments for health IT

A federal standards committee working with the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has established workgroups that will deliver reports in 90 days on three areas of standards for health IT: clinical quality, clinical operations and privacy/security, according to an announcement in the Federal Register.

Under the economic stimulus law, the Health and Human Services Department's National Coordinator for Health IT will oversee $17 billion in incentive payments to physicians and hospitals that adopt certified health IT systems. The coordinator also will establish a process to certify electronic health record solutions produced by vendors and will set details on implementation.

Congress created the Health IT Standards Committee and the Health IT Policy Committee to make recommendations to the national coordinator.

According to the notice published May 26 in the Federal Register, the national coordinator will first establish priority areas based in part on recommendations received from the Health IT Policy Committee regarding standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria.

After the standards committee is informed of those priority areas, it will direct the appropriate workgroup to develop a report in 90 days on the standards that already exist to meet the priorities and where there are gaps or overlapping standards.

The workgroups also will set a timeline for the standards committee to issue recommendations to the national coordinator, while accounting for testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

After the workgroups submit their reports, the standards committee must decide whether to accept or revise the timelines or ask for additional research.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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