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HITSP Takes Another Step to Advance the NHIN

New York, Jun 16, 2006

On June 14, 2006, the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) approved an initial set of high-level standards that will help to communicate data in a nationwide health information network for the United States.

To date, ninety standards have been selected for their relevance and suitability in satisfying the relevant use cases of biosurveillance, consumer empowerment, and electronic healthcare records identified by the American Health Information Community (AHIC). HITSP will submit an initial list of recommended standards to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) by June 29, 2006, and detailed interoperability specifications will be submitted in September.

Established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under one of several HHS contracts, HITSP harmonizes the standards required to enable a shared, nationwide healthcare data network.

“Many of the things we’re working to do in the system are completely dependent upon these standards,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt said at a June 13 AHIC meeting. “When we talk about comprehensive health reform, and we talk about being able to reduce medical mistakes . . . they are completely focused on the minute details it requires to actually make these systems work. I am very pleased with the progress that we have made to date.”

Leavitt also expressed support of an AHIC workgroup’s recommendations for federal agencies and departments with health lines of business—such as the U.S. Department of Defense, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and the Department of Veterans Affairs—to incentivize the use of HITSP-approved standards in their contracts where applicable.

On June 28-29, HHS will host the first Nationwide Health Information Network Forum—a platform for the several contracted groups involved in the development of the NHIN to define the critical technical and architectural requirements needed to support the secure exchange of electronic healthcare records across the nationwide network. These functional requirements will help to provide a framework for HITSP in defining implementation level standards guidance in support of NHIN projects. [See related article, HHS to Host First Nationwide Health Information Network Forum].

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