EHR standard released by public/private group

New EHR standard supports seven types of data exchange

The leading public/private standards body for health information technology has completed its initial work to develop technical standards for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) that are aligned with the economic stimulus law, the group announced.

The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) is a public/private partnership under contract with the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to produce technical specifications for health IT. HITSP began work in April on mapping its existing standards to support economic stimulus law requirements and released three updated EHR standards July 23.

“HITSP has transformed its existing work to be completely aligned with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," the formal title of the recent economic stimulus law, Dr. John Halamka, HITSP chair, said in a news release. “These approved specifications represent the culmination of some 90 days and 13,000 hours of volunteer effort to meet the requirements of this landmark piece of legislation.”

Under the stimulus law, HHS will distribute more than $17 billion to doctors and hospitals that buy and "meaningfully use" certified digital medical records. Congress authorized two advisory panels, the Health IT Policy Committee and the Health IT Standards Committee, to make recommendations to HHS on meaningful use and certification standards.

HITSP is separate from the Health IT Standards Committee, but the two share several members. Halamka serves as vice chairman of the Health IT Standards Committee.

HITSP’s new standard for digital medical records includes specifications for seven types of health data exchanges anticipated under the stimulus law.

As part of its definition of “meaningful use” of health IT, the Health IT Policy Committee recently recommended that providers be required to participate in seven types of electronic health information exchanges starting in 2011. The seven types of data to be exchanged are prescriptions, lab results, clinical data summaries, biosurveillance data, immunization registries, public health and quality measurement.

“HITSP Capabilities provide specific transactions supporting all seven of these required exchanges and others that will be needed in 2011, 2013, and beyond,” Halamka said.

In addition, HITSP’s new technical specifications for EHRs support the workflow, information content, infrastructure, and security and privacy requirements laid out in the economic stimulus law, Halamka said.

HITSP is administered by the American National Standards Institute and has strategic partners including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the Advanced Technology Institute, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

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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