ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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HITSP Committees Recommend Core Requirements for Nationwide Health Information Network

New York, Aug 02, 2006

Representatives of the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel’s (HITSP) technical committees recently testified before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) to recommend functional requirements needed to support the successful roll out of a new nationwide health information network (NHIN).

The core requirements will help to synchronize the efforts of several groups contracted by HHS to assist in the creation of a shared, interoperable nationwide system. The HITSP was established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under one such contract to harmonize the standards required to enable the secure exchange of patient data across the system.

The HITSP technical committees, which identify and harmonize standards for ratification by the full panel, focus their activities on the three initial use cases identified by the American Health Information Community (AHIC)—consumer empowerment, biosurveillance, and electronic health records.

Although technical standards for provider-controlled electronic health records have existed for more than ten years, standards for consumer-controlled health record systems are only now beginning to emerge. The current consumer empowerment use case allows consumers to establish and manage access privileges to their medical information by designated caregivers and healthcare providers.

The technical committees’ proposals included recommendations that:

  • the functional services of the NHIN core be limited to reliable and secure transport of unaltered electronic messages and documents
  • the NHIN provide a secure communication channel for the appropriate management of credentials
  • methods of high-level filtering be established to ensure that data is codified at the granularity needed for clinical care
  • the core system support a secure communication environment for secondary users of data

“NHIN rollout requires consumer-trusted, tamper-proof, transparent, and end-to-end transport of document content with standards in place for: security infrastructure for all nodes end-to-end; patient identification services; and document sharing,” said Elaine Blechman, co-chair of the consumer empowerment technical committee.

“In a manner . . . that is analogous to a commercial package delivery service in the paper realm, the core of the NHIN should deliver electronic ‘packages’ to authorized receivers in a reliable and secure manner,” said Jamie Ferguson, co-chair of the HITSP technical committee on electronic health records. “This should be done without opening the ‘packages’ or performing any additional services related to their contents.”

For more information about the HITSP, visit

To view the technical committees’ full testimony, click here.

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