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ANSI President and ISO Secretary-General Join HHS Secretary Leavitt at HIMSS Interoperability Showcase

New York, Mar 03, 2008

ANSI President, ISO Secretary-General, and HHS Secretary visit the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase

Last week, S. Joe Bhatia, president and CEO of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and Alan Bryden, Secretary-General of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), came together in Orlando, Florida, for the 2008 Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference & Exhibition.

During his presentation on February 26, 2008, Mr. Bhatia discussed the work of the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), a group that is working together to achieve a widely accepted and useful set of standards that will enable and support widespread interoperability, accurate use, access, privacy and security of shared health information. Operating under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HITSP is administered by ANSI in cooperation with strategic partners including HIMSS, the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Mr. Bhatia also highlighted HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt's recent recognition of HITSP’s first set of recommended standards, known as “Interoperability Specifications (IS),” which address needs in the areas of Electronic Health Records (EHR), biosurveillance, and consumer empowerment. [see related article]

During his presentation, Mr. Bryden discussed the active role that ISO Technical Committee (TC) 215, Health informatics, has played in supporting the advancement of interoperable health records. Since the committee's formation in 1998, TC 215 has published 44 International Standards that help to achieve compatibility and interoperability between independent information and communication technology (ICT) systems. The U.S. has held the secretariat of this committee since its inception, and HIMSS has performed the secretariat duties since 2003. In addition, HIMSS serves as the Administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 215.

Following their presentations, Bhatia and Bryden joined HHS Secretary Leavitt on a tour of the event's "Interoperability Showcase," where vendors demonstrated how their updated systems could support the interoperable exchange of healthcare data. During his keynote address, Secretary Leavitt emphasized the importance of healthcare interoperability standards in the U.S., where healthcare services represent fifteen percent of the nation's overall gross domestic product.

"When it comes to health care, we know that real harm can come from a lack of access to important information. We also all know that it is universally agreed that health IT has a role to play in making health care safer and more efficient," said Secretary Leavitt. "We have the technical capacity to balance legitimate concerns over privacy with the benefits of appropriate sharing of information. We need to make sure we get this right, and we are working to do so."

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