Next round of health IT interoperability specs go to HHS

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The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), a multi-stakeholder group working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to assure the interoperability of EHRs in the United States, has sent the next set of specifications for the National Health Information Network to the American Health Information Community (AHIC) and HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt for approval.

John Halamka, MD, HITSP chair and CIO of Harvard Medical School, said the Panel's recommendations will facilitate the secure exchange of patient data, which is in line with President George W. Bush's call for the widespread availability of interoperable electronic health records by 2014.

"I believe that patients should be assured that their confidentiality is protected while they are receiving the highest quality care possible," said Halamka. "The HITSP is identifying the standards and specifications that will help patients become stewards of their own personal health information."

Upon review and approval by AHIC, the specifications identified below will be recommended to Secretary Leavitt for acceptance:

  • Consumer Access to Clinical Information will assist patients in making decisions regarding care and healthy lifestyles. Accessible information could include registration information, medication history, lab results, current and previous health conditions, allergies, summaries of healthcare encounters and diagnoses.
  • Quality indicators will benefit providers by providing a collection of data for inpatient and ambulatory care, and will benefit clinicians by providing real time or near-real time feedback regarding quality indicators and contra-indications for specific patients.
  • Emergency Responder-Electronic Health Record will track and provide on-site emergency care professionals, medical examiner/fatality managers and public health practitioners with needed information regarding care, treatment, or investigation of emergency incident victims.
  • A set of standards and specifications that will help to keep patient medical information secure in an electronic environment was also approved by the HITSP on Oct. 15. Halamka said the Security and Privacy IS helps to assure that personal health information will only be used by authorized personnel for official purposes.