HITSP and CCHIT Developments

On Friday, October 20, the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel met again to consider amendments to its first three sets of interoperability standards. Modern Healthcare.com published a full report on the meeting today. HHS’s American Health Information Community (AHIC) will consider the standards at its October 31 meeting.

Modern Healthcare explains that

In its personal health-records [PHR] use case, AHIC proposes that PHR systems would be more useful and attractive to patients if they could be linked electronically to data sources so that a patient’s medication history and basic health and demographic information could be loaded into the PHR with little patient effort.

The PHR related interoperability standards therefore concern an electronic patient registration (or medical summary) and an electronic medication history. Modern Healthcare reports that

Considerable controversy arose last month over a report of the technical committee working on the PHR specification to create a patient’s medical summary. The committee recommended adopting the Exchange of Personal Health Record Content (XPHR) as an interim specification even though the specification is still under development by Health Level 7, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based standards development organization. The recommendation drew cries of foul from supporters of the competing Continuity of Care Record, which has been developed, balloted and is in use by providers and IT vendors. The CCR was developed by ANSI-accredited standards development organization, ASTM International.

HITSP settled the controversy by postponing for six months a decision on which standard to endorse for the PHR use case while expressing a preference for using the Continuity of Care Document, itself a compromise between HL7 and ASTM. The CCD, which incorporates the CCR, is expected to be balloted sometime early next year. Thus, the specification for the PHR that was sent to the AHIC Friday was not deemed to be a standard ready for testing, as were the other specifications, but rather a “work in progress.”

Another area drawing critical comment was a decision by HITSP to use the HL7 version 2.5 communication standard for transmitting lab data and results to an EHR rather than the EHR-Lab Interoperability and Connectivity Standards, or ELINCS, a project of the California Healthcare Foundation.

FEHB Plan carriers will be obligated to adopt these interoperability standards in their new and upgraded health information technology under a 2008 contract amendment that OPM will adopt pursuant to the President’s August 22, 2006, Executive Order.

On a related note, the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), which like HITSP operates under an HHS contract, certified several additional ambulatory HIT products today, including several electronic health record products.