Committees approve recommendations for health information network

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A draft of the basic requirements for a national health information network have been signed off on by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and soon will be passed on to HHS (Health and Human Services) for review. The requirements are a set of general guidelines that tackles such issues as data storage and transmission, certification, access and personal identification. Generally, the draft calls for the information networks to use HIPAA standards to protect patient data. HSS will be relied upon to create policies to prevent mix-ups such as patients being matched up with incorrect records and to allow patients and doctors some control over information access regardless of where the information is stored.

In another development, the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), a multi-stakeholder group focused on the development of interoperable healthcare data standards for the U.S., has proposed three interoperability specifications in the areas of electronic health records, biosurveillance, and consumer empowerment. The recommendations were delivered to the American Health Information Community (AHIC) for review. Details of the specifications which are to support a national health information network include, according to a release:

  • Regarding biosurveillance, the specification defines specific standards that promote the exchange of information among healthcare providers and public health authorities;
  • The EHR specification details specific standards to support the interoperability between electronic health records and laboratory systems and secure access to laboratory results and interpretations in a patient-centric manner; and  
  • The consumer empowerment interoperability specification identifies the standards needed for patients to exchange data with their caregivers.

These specifications are the first in an expected series from the HITSP. The panel was first formed in 2005 and is under contract with Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) for the completion of this work.