ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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President Directs Federal Agencies to Adopt Health IT Standards

New York, Aug 23, 2006

President George W. Bush signed an executive order yesterday requiring federal agencies that administer or support health insurance programs to adopt interoperable health information technology standards, increase the transparency of healthcare quality and price, and to develop approaches that promote efficient healthcare.

“The President's action today is a major step forward in giving consumers easy-to-use information about the quality and price of their healthcare,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “This is fundamental to achieving a health care system that delivers good value.”

Programs administered and sponsored by the federal government accounts for approximately 40% of all healthcare provided in the United States. The executive order applies to HHS, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid; the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs; as well as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which administers health insurance plans for federal government employees.

Similar commitments by the private sector and state and local governments are expected to follow. Secretary Leavitt has encouraged state governors and the nation’s largest private employers to sign comparable contracts with the healthcare companies with which they do business. Leavitt is also expected to announce that all healthcare purchasers, employers, unions and state governments that wish to do business with the government must also commit to the standards described in the order.

One group working to deliver standards to HHS is the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 2005 under one of several HHS contracts. The panel works to harmonize the standards required to enable the secure exchange of patient data across a new nationwide health information network (NHIN).

In June, the HITSP submitted an initial list of recommended interoperability standards to HHS [See related article: Panel Recommends Initial Standards to Support Nationwide Health Information Network]. The standards were selected for their relevance and suitability in satisfying the relevant use cases of consumer empowerment, electronic healthcare records, and biosurveillance identified by the American Health Information Community (AHIC). Detailed interoperability specifications will be submitted in September.

More than 200 organizations representing consumers, healthcare providers, public health agencies, government agencies, standards development organizations and other stakeholders participate on the HITSP. The panel is administered by ANSI in cooperation with strategic partners including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), and Booz Allen Hamilton.

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