ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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National Collaboration to Advance Electronic Health Records

New York, Jun 06, 2005

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced the formation of a national private-public collaboration to achieve electronic health records and interoperability through agreed upon standards. The American Health Information Community (AHIC) will aid in the nationwide transition to electronic health records (EHRs), which are digital collections of a patient’s medical history and health characteristics. The AHIC, which will be formed under the auspices of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, will provide input and recommendations to HHS on how to make health records digital and interoperable, and assure that the privacy and security of those records are protected.

"The national strategy for achieving interoperability of digital health information is for federal agencies -- who pay for more than one-third of all health care in the country -- to work with private-sector health care providers and employers in developing and adopting an architecture, standards and certification process," Secretary Leavitt said. "The use of electronic health records and other information technology will transform our health care system by reducing medical errors, minimizing paperwork hassles, lowering costs and improving quality of care," Secretary Leavitt continued.

HHS will solicit nominations for people to serve on the AHIC and Secretary Leavitt will appoint up to 17 commission members, as well as serve as chairperson. The AHIC will be chartered for two years, with the option to renew and duration of no more than five years. The department intends for the AHIC to be succeeded within five years by a private-sector health information community initiative that, among other things, would set additional needed standards, certify new health information technology, and provide long-term governance for health care transformation.

HHS will also issue four requests for proposals (RFPs) that will create processes for setting data standards, certification, and architecture for an Internet-based nationwide health information exchange, as well as assess patient privacy and security policies. In total, HHS will spend $86.5 million on health IT in FY 2005, and President Bush has requested $125 million for health IT in FY 2006.

Secretary Leavitt noted that HHS will do its part by adopting standards and data-sharing processes for Internet-based applications that will help federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare support the use of digital and interoperable health records that are privacy-protected and secure.

AHIC will advise the department on how to accelerate the nationwide adoption of interoperable digital records, while striking the right balance between the public and private sectors. For more information on the AHIC, visit

See related story: HHS Solicits Comments on Proposed E-prescribing Standards

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