Committee to set standards for health IT in three areas

Tuesday - 5/26/2009, 7:58pm EDT

WFED's Jason Miller

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

The federal Health Information Technology Standards Committee set up three working groups to analyze recommendations around clinical quality, clinical operations and privacy and security.

As part of the Recovery Act, the White House created the standards committee and policy committee to help further advance health IT (HIT).

The policy committee is developing recommendations around these three -- clinical quality, clinical operations and privacy and security -- and other areas.

Both committees held their first meetings earlier this month.

And while these committees are furthering the building blocks of health IT, the Department of Health and Human Services is working with at least five agencies on actually exchanging electronic health records (EHRs).

Through the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) Connect program, HHS is providing a place for public and private sector networks to exchange data.

David Riley, the NHIN Connect's program lead, says the Social Security Administration became the first federal agency to connect to the network of networks to exchange medical data of people applying for disability benefits with MedVirginia.

"We are moving federal agencies into limited production," Riley says. "Our goal is to add additional agencies this year and our target is 8 additional agencies for 2009."

Agencies still are planning how they will move to NHIN, but Riley says the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the National Cancer Institute, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Indian Health Service are closest to using the system.

In preparation for this move, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released in April open source software to make it easier for agencies and the private sector to connect to the NHIN.

Riley says the NHIN Connect has three components:

  • A gateway to implement the 10 services, including document retrieval, document query, audit of logs and messaging services.
  • An enterprise services layer to connect disparate networks so make it easier for agencies or the private sector to plug-and-play into each others' systems.
  • An universal client layer which gives software developers an easier way to create applications and connect to the services in the other layers.

Riley says HHS also is working with EHR vendors such as Google and Microsoft to better understand their technology needs.

He adds there is a lot to address, including legal and trust issues.

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On the Web:

HHS -- HIT Policy Committee

HHS -- HIT Standards Committee

HHS -- Open source software press release

FederalNewsRadio -- SSA in final preparations to jump on nationwide health exchange

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