HITSP continues to seek transparency, interoperability

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ORLANDO - Over the past year, HITSP has become an established, trusted organization with a multi-stakeholder, open and transparent process for standards harmonization, according to John Halamka, MD, CIO, Harvard Medical School, chair, Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), during a presentation at the 2008 HIMSS conference.

“Quality measures in the United States are not commutable,” Halamka said. “We need and want it to be real time with a dashboard view—which is truly what the standards are all about.”

In 2006, Halamka said that HITSP created interoperability specifications for consumer empowerment, laboratory results, and biosurveillance. During 2007, HITSP continued its work by focusing on security and privacy constructs and a new set of guidelines supplied by AHIC, including: security and privacy; emergency responder; consumer access; and quality indicators.

He said that security standards allow the industry to: collect and communicate security audit trails; have consistent time; document integrity; manage and control data access; manage and control privacy consents; manage entity identity credentials; and secure a communications channel.

Halamka added that safe and affordable healthcare depends upon the secure exchange of information among patients, providers, payors and government entities such as public health agencies.

“Recognition of the HITSP interoperability specifications is an important milestone,” he said. “Between the federal implications and the certification efforts of CCHIT, stakeholders will be motivated to adopt a standard way of sharing data throughout the Nationwide Health Information Network [NHIN], leading to better healthcare for us all.”

Looking beyond 2007 and into 2008, Halamka said the goals for HITSP include education and communication of the industry; participation in NHIN trials; further alignment with CCHIT; and the reuse of HITSP components to accelerate workflow.

“Our foundations committee will work on the medium- to long-term alignment of the standards organizations and their work products in parallel use with the use case work of the entire panel,” he said.

After his presentation, Halamka opened up the session for discussion during which dialog centered on consumer control and payor-provider involvement.

Attendees asked Halamka why patients are not being asked to be in control of their own medical records. He said that as there is more value-add for patients, they will begin to increase the demand for more control.

Halamka added that consumer demand will come but it will be part of a spectrum of solutions. “It has to be a parallel effort of doing things at a community and provider level to address the policy issues—a true collaborative effort.”