ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Vendors Demonstrate Steps Taken to Implement HITSP Interoperability Standards

HIMSS ’08 Interoperability Showcase highlights progress towards nationwide health IT system

New York, Mar 21, 2008

Thirty-six vendors in the healthcare information technology industry led efforts to implement the first set of interoperability standards identified by the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP).

Operating under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HITSP has been working since late 2005 to define the technical standards necessary to assure the interoperability of electronic health records in the United States. Priorities for the Panel’s work are established by the American Heath Information Community (AHIC).

In January 2007, HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt accepted HITSP’s first set of recommended standards, known as “Interoperability Specifications (IS),” addressing needs in the areas of Electronic Health Records (EHR) (e.g., the electronic delivery of lab results to providers of care), biosurveillance (e.g., data networks supporting the rapid alert to a disease outbreak), and consumer empowerment (e.g., giving patients the ability to manage and control access to their registration and medication histories).

Following a one-year period of implementation testing, in January 2008 the Secretary announced his formal recognition of the HITSP IS. Agencies administering or sponsoring federal health programs are now required to implement the standards.

Many of the vendors that had signed on as “early implementers” came together last month at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Interoperability Showcase in Orlando to demonstrate how their updated systems could support the interoperable exchange of healthcare data. Participating organizations included:

“The interoperability showcase demonstrated the early adoption of HITSP’s Interoperability Specifications for consumer empowerment, laboratory, and biosurveillance exchange,” explained Dr. John Halamka, HITSP chair and CIO of Harvard Medical School. “Now that HITSP standards have been recognized by Secretary Leavitt, vendors have the specifications they need to exchange clinical summaries among providers, payers and patients.”

Three additional sets of HITSP IS – Emergency Responder-Electronic Health Records; Consumer Access to Clinical Information; and Quality –– were accepted by the Secretary for implementation testing in January 2008.

A new IS on Medications Management is expected to be approved by the Panel at its meeting on March 27, 2008. Upon approval, the IS will be submitted to the Secretary for acceptance.

New work has also been launched to address interoperability needs in six additional areas: personalized health, transfer of care, remote monitoring, secure communications between patients and providers, public health case reporting, and immunizations and response.

HITSP is open to all stakeholder organizations with interest in the Panel’s work areas and in the interoperability of healthcare information technology. Members work together to define the necessary functional components and standards – as well as gaps in standards – which must be resolved to enable the interoperability of healthcare data. Public comments are considered as the Panel develops its recommendations.

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

Nearly 400 organizations representing consumers, health care providers, public health agencies, government agencies, standards developing organizations, and other stakeholders now participate in the HITSP and its committees.