Standards organization ASTM International has published a Continuity of Care Record (CCR) standard, which was developed by a subcommittee focused on electronic health records (EHRs). A CCR is a summary of a patient's most recent and vital medical information that can be passed along to the next healthcare provider whenever a patient is referred, transferred, or otherwise visits various providers.
The standard is based on the Extensible Markup Language and is available via the ASTM website.
EHRs vendors are being pushed to include CCR to software and healthcare providers are similarly being asked to use the CCR when patients are referred.
Some of CCR's functions are similar to the Health Level Seven (HL-7) standard for EHRs, but they are not the same. However, in November, Health Level Seven announced plans to create an implementation guide for expressing CCR patient data - including a summary of a patient's most recent and vital medical information - within the architecture of an HL7 Clinical Document for standards-based electronic exchange of information.
In another move to bolster the effort, one ASTM sponsor, the American Academy of Family Physicians, has launched Project Continuity of Care, an initiative designed to raise awareness of the standard, to develop and deploy field-capable CCR-compatible software applications and tools, and to accelerate integration of the CCR into existing electronic health record software.
"We now have the CCR standard, an affordable technology for capturing a patient's most relevant health information and making it personal, private and portable," said Douglas E. Henley, MD, executive vice president of the AAFP, in announcing Project Continuity of Care. "Our aim is to provide physicians and other caregivers with access to this summary medical information when and where it is needed, and to give patients the assurance they deserve that they won't suffer in an emergency because of lack of information about their personal illnesses or treatment plans."