NIST creating tools to test health IT products

Tests will be for technical standards and meaningful use

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is taking on an official role in creating testing tools for health-related information technology products to determine whether they meet technical standards and meaningful use criteria under the economic stimulus law and related regulations.

On March 17, NIST released the first of four installments of new health IT test method and related software. The agency also has created a new Web site about its testing involvement in electronic health records.

Starting in 2011, the Health and Human Services Department will be distributing $17 billion to doctors and hospitals that can demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems. HHS has written regulations specifying the technical and meaningful use standards, and on certification of health IT products.

NIST is working with vendors, standards organizations that include the American National Standards Institute, certification bodies and contractors to develop a suite of software tools to support the health IT testing infrastructure, the agency said in a news release. The tools will help vendors test their health IT products and ensure basic functionality, such as the calculation of body mass index or proper formatting of common electronic health records in Extensible Markup Language.

HHS intends to use NIST’s National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program to perform the accreditation of testing laboratories. Those labs will use the tools to evaluate health IT products applying for certifications.

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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