Panel recommends initial standards to support nationwide health information network

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The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) said today has identified for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services an initial set of standards to facilitate the secure exchange of patient data in a new nationwide health information network (NHIN) for the United States.The 90 standards delivered today were identified by the Panel as being relevant and suitable for further consideration.

The next HITSP deliverable, due in late September 2006, calls for detailed interoperability specifications to support each use case. These standards are intended to make possible President George W. Bush's call for development of the NHIN by 2014.

Operating under a contract administered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT), the HITSP was formed in 2005 to harmonize the standards required to enable an interoperable healthcare data network. Initial work has focused on the areas of biosurveillance, consumer empowerment, and electronic healthcare records - the three initial use cases identified by the American Health Information Community (AHIC). More than 190 organizations representing consumers, healthcare providers, public health agencies, government agencies, standards development organizations and other stakeholders participate on the HITSP and assisted in shaping the recommended list of standards. 

"HITSP members have worked together to develop an open, transparent process for standards harmonization based on objective criteria," said Dr. John Halamka, chair of the HITSP and chief information officer of Harvard Medical School.   "We've considered nearly 600 candidate standards and identified 90 of the most appropriate to meet the needs of the AHIC use cases.  Our next task will be to produce the detailed standards guides, called interoperability specifications that will enable the creation of a secure information superhighway for healthcare."

The Panel is administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standardization system, in cooperation with strategic partners including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and Booz Allen Hamilton.