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HHS Secretary Recognizes Products of HITSP Standards Work

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary has recognized the second set of interoperability standards developed by the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP).

HITSP produces "Interoperability Specifications" - documents that harmonize and recommend the technical standards necessary to assure the interoperability of electronic health records and help support the nationwide exchange of healthcare data.

According to Executive Order 13410, federal agencies administering or sponsoring federal health programs must implement relevant recognized interoperability standards in new and updated systems. These standards will also become part of the certification process for electronic health records and networks.

"Recognition of the HITSP Interoperability Specifications as interoperability standards is an important step in improving healthcare nationwide," explained Dr. John Halamka, HITSP chair and CIO of Harvard Medical School. "With these standards in place, stakeholders will be motivated by both federal implications and the certification efforts of CCHIT to adopt a standard way of sharing data nationally."

The newly recognized HITSP Interoperability Specifications, which pertain to three priority work areas assigned to the Panel by the recently concluded American Heath Information Community, were accepted by the HHS Secretary in 2008 as interoperability standards in these areas:

Following the Secretary's acceptance of these standards in January 2008, a year-long period of review and testing by healthcare providers, public health agencies, government agencies, standards developing organizations, consumers and other stakeholders was launched for each of the Specifications. His recent recognition signifies the end of the initial testing period; federal agencies can now administer or sponsor federal health programs to begin implementation.

These standards join others that were recognized by the Secretary in January 2008 in the following areas:

  • Electronic Health Record (EHR) (e.g., the electronic delivery of lab results to providers of care),
  • Biosurveillance (e.g., data networks supporting the rapid alert to a disease outbreak), and
  • Consumer Empowerment (e.g., giving patients the ability to manage and control access to their registration and medication histories).

The newly recognized Consumer Empowerment and Access to Clinical Information via Media specification encompasses and builds upon Consumer Empowerment, an earlier version that was part of the January 2008 recognition.

"The secure exchange of information among patients, providers, payers and government entities is vital for safe and affordable healthcare," added Halamka. "HITSP Interoperability Specifications play a key role in this process, acting like a cookbook that collects lists of ingredients (standards) and provides instructions (implementation guidance) for combining those ingredients into a finished product (the exchange of healthcare information)."

Additional HITSP work has already been completed to address interoperability needs in several other priority areas, including: medication management, personalized healthcare, consultations and transfers of care, remote monitoring, secure communications between patients and providers, public health case reporting, and immunizations and response management.

More than 600 organizations representing consumers, health care providers, public health agencies, government agencies, standards developing organizations, and other stakeholders now participate in HITSP and its committees. Members work together to define the necessary functional components and standards - as well as gaps in standards - that must be resolved to enable the interoperability of healthcare data. Public comments are considered as the Panel develops its recommendations.


Operating under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HITSP is administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in cooperation with strategic partners including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and Booz Allen Hamilton.

About ANSI

ANSI is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Its membership is comprised of businesses, professional societies and trade associations, standards developers, government agencies, and consumer and labor organizations. The Institute currently administers five standards panels in the areas of homeland security, nanotechnology, healthcare information technology, biofuels and identity theft prevention and identity management.

    Contact: Elizabeth Austin
    American National Standards Institute
    (212) 642-4911

SOURCE American National Standards Institute
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