ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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NGA Report on e-Health Recommends Adherence to HITSP Interoperability Specifications

New York, Sep 25, 2008

A newly released inaugural report from the National Governors Association (NGA) State Alliance for e-Health suggests strategies for states to improve their electronic health information exchange (HIE) processes. Accelerating Progress: Using Health Information Technology and Electronic Health Information Exchange to Improve Care offers several key recommendations, including adherence to guidelines set by the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP).

HITSP produces Interoperability Specifications (IS), which are framework technical solutions that address a specific set of identified HIE needs, such as electronic health record laboratory results reports, biosurveillance, and consumer empowerment. HITSP IS collect existing standards and specifications and provide implementation guidance for all stakeholders involved in the exchange of health care information.

Once an IS has been developed and approved by the Panel, it is submitted to Secretary Michael Leavitt of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for his acceptance. Following a one-year period of implementation testing, the Secretary may announce his formal recognition of the HITSP IS.

According to Executive Order 13410 signed by President Bush in August 2006, federal agencies administering or sponsoring federal health programs must implement any and all relevant recognized interoperability standards. These standards also become part of the certification process for electronic health records and networks.

The Accelerating Progress report recommends extending this federal requirement to the state level, suggesting that, “States should require that public program health information systems conform to HITSP standards, as recognized by the Secretary of HHS.”

The report offers a total of six recommendations to improve state-level HIE processes, including:

  • providing leadership and support for e-health efforts;

  • addressing health information privacy and security;

  • streamlining the licensure process to enable cross-state e-health;

  • engaging consumers to use health information technology (HIT) and HIE in managing their health and health care; and

  • developing workforce and agency capacity to support electronic HIE efforts.

“We applaud the NGA’s support of standards and look forward to working with stakeholders nationwide to accelerate the secure exchange of healthcare data to benefit patients, providers, government agencies, and payers,” said Dr. John Halamka, chair of HITSP. In addition to his work with HITSP, Dr. Halamka is CIO of the CareGroup Health System, CIO and dean for technology at Harvard Medical School, chair of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network (NEHEN), CEO of MA-SHARE, and a practicing emergency physician.

To read the full report, click here. For more information on the State Alliance for e-Health, visit


Operating under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HITSP is 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.

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