ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

Standards Panel Delivers Interoperability Specifications to Support Nationwide Health Information Network

Implementation testing to begin on biosurveillance, electronic health records, and consumer empowerment

Washington, DC, Nov 01, 2006

The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), a multi-stakeholder group facilitating the development of interoperable healthcare data standards for the United States, recently recommended to the American Health Information Community (AHIC) three interoperability specifications in the areas of electronic health records, biosurveillance, and consumer empowerment.

At its meeting yesterday (October 31, 2006) in Washington, DC, AHIC acknowledged the excellent work of the HITSP members and further recommended the interoperability specifications to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

Electronic health records, biosurveillance, and consumer empowerment were the first in a series of “use cases” to be addressed by the Panel. Each interoperability specification provides detailed implementation guidance for standards that satisfy the requirements for data exchange as outlined below. Where gaps and overlaps are identified, the HITSP provides recommendations and a roadmap for resolution:

  • The HITSP Biosurveillance Interoperability Specification defines specific standards that promote the exchange of biosurveillance information among health care providers and public health authorities.

  • The HITSP Electronic Health Record (EHR) Interoperability Specification details specific standards to support the interoperability between electronic health records and laboratory systems and secure access to laboratory results and interpretations in a patient-centric manner.

  • The HITSP Consumer Empowerment Interoperability Specification identifies the standards needed for patients to exchange data with their caregivers.

The Panel’s recommendations will facilitate the secure exchange of patient data which is consistent with President George W. Bush’s call for the widespread availability of interoperable electronic health records by 2014.

“HHS and HITSP are empowering consumers to be stewards of their own health information,” said Dr. John Halamka, chair of HITSP and chief information officer of Harvard Medical School.

More than 200 organizations representing consumers, healthcare providers, public health agencies, government agencies, standards development organizations and other stakeholders participate in HITSP and assisted in shaping the recommended list of standards.

“HITSP volunteers have dedicated countless hours to this initiative, working together to develop an open, transparent process for standards harmonization based on objective criteria,” explained Halamka.

Operating under a contract administered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the HITSP was formed in 2005 to harmonize the standards required to enable an interoperable healthcare data network. 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.

About ANSI
ANSI is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Its membership is comprised of businesses, professional societies and trade associations, standards developers, government agencies, and consumer and labor organizations. The Institute currently administers four standards panels in the areas of homeland security, nanotechnology, healthcare information technology, and identity theft prevention and identity management.