ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Electronic Health Record Standards Get a Push

New York, Nov 13, 2003

Every time a consumer visits a doctor, hospital or other health care provider, information is collected about the patient’s health. Without standard formats to collect, store and distribute this information, a patient’s data can be scattered among different providers in different locations, in electronic or paper format, and difficult to locate in a timely manner. To help medical professionals access a patient’s data more quickly, the American Health Information Management Association, a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has recently released new practice standards to its members that will help the industry make the transition to the use of electronic health records (EHRs), which are more reliable than conventional paper file and document methods. The standards will provide valuable resources and guidance to the healthcare industry and position healthcare informatics professionals to play a key role in the advancement of the electronic health record.

An EHR can store a patient’s entire medical history and facilitates the provision of healthcare. AHIMA’s practice standards address six main issues related to EHRs:

  • The complete medical record in a hybrid EHR environment
  • Implementing electronic signatures
  • E-mail as a provider-patient electronic communication of the EHR
  • Electronic document management as a component of the EHR
  • Core data sets for the physician practice EHR
  • Speech recognition in the EHR

A working group of the International Organization for Standardization is also working on standards related to EHRs. Currently in developement, ISO 21549, Health Informatics – Patient health card data, is to be based mainly on "stable data," which can be stored on a voluntary basis with the patient’s informed consent.

As standards in this area are developed, consideration of the consumer response is carefully considered. Because of the extreme sensitivity of the information EHRs carry, it may take time for confidence and trust to build among patients and users.

The AHIMA standards are currently available to the organization's members, and will be available to the healthcare industry in January 2004. AHIMA is a member of the ANSI Healthcare Informatics Standards Board, an open, public forum for the voluntary coordination of healthcare informatics standards.

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