ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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HIT Policy and Standards Committees Commence Work on National Health Information Infrastructure

HHS Appoints Members to Newly Established Groups, Including HITSP Chair John Halamka

New York, May 22, 2009

Two Federal Advisory Committees formed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 met for the first time last week to begin their work in guiding the advancement of health information technology (HIT) for the United States.

The HIT Policy Committee is charged with making recommendations to David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, on an overall policy framework for the development and adoption of a national interoperable health information infrastructure, including standards for the secure and private exchange of patient medical information.

Policy Committee members met on May 11, 2009, to address six priority areas: establishing meaningful use, certification, infrastructure, privacy and security, health information exchange, and public health. As a result of their discussion, committee member recommended the establishment of four working groups to focus on specific issues:

  • Meaningful use
  • Certification and adoption, including infrastructure issues, workforce, and facilitation strategy
  • Information exchange
  • Cross-cutting issues such as privacy and security, patient centeredness, and measurement

The HIT Standards Committee was formed to make recommendations to Dr. Blumenthal on standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic exchange and use of health information.

During their May 15 meeting, members of the Standards Committee pledged their commitment to expediting the development of effective health IT standards that support the practical daily work of physicians and hospitals. Members addressed a number of issues including deadlines for deliverables; mandates and compliance requirements already imposed on healthcare stakeholders; consistent use of key vocabulary; capabilities of smaller and more rural providers; and the evolving nature of meaningful use and relevant technologies. Three work groups will be created in the following areas:

  • Clinical operations
  • Clinical quality
  • Privacy and security to further the Committee’s goals

At the Standards Committee meeting, Dr. Blumenthal expressed the value of the work already done by the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP).

“We are adopting a view that’s goal oriented, without in any way depreciating the value of technology or the expertise around this table,” said Dr. Blumenthal. “We have to get a lot of work done, and HITSP will continue to be a very important resource.”

Operating under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HITSP is a cooperative partnership between the public and private sectors that works to ensure the interoperability of electronic health records in the United States. Administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in cooperation with strategic partners including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), and Booz Allen Hamilton, HITSP is currently working to create new streamlined electronic standards implementation guides reorganized around the milestones and priorities defined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The final goal is to deliver compact, easy-to-implement, and flexible guidance that supports the meaningful use of EHRs and protection of privacy. [see related article]

HITSP’s work effort is powered by more than 600 volunteer technical experts working under the leadership of the Panel’s chairman, Dr. John Halamka. In addition to his role as HITSP chair, Dr. Halamka has been selected to serve as vice-chair of the HIT Standards Committee.

For more information on the HIT Policy Committee meeting, including the agenda and membership list, click here. For more information on the HIT Standards Committee meeting, including the agenda and membership list, click here.

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