HL7 calls for changes to ONC's plan for health IT certification

Robert H. Dolin, MD, chairman of HL7 International

Standards organization Health Level Seven International is urging the United Sates to move full speed ahead with its programs for the voluntary certification of health information technology – with what the group calls "reasonable and important modifications."

Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited standards developing organization (SDO), with more than 2,300 members representing about 500 organizations which comprise more than 90 percent of the healthcare information systems vendors in the United States.

In a formal comment to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology regarding the government's proposed rule for certification programs, Robert H. Dolin, MD, chairman of HL7 International, and Charles Jaffe, MD, its CEO, wrote that "the Proposed Rule on establishment of certification programs for health information technology (HIT) marks an important step forward in the nation's efforts to improve health care by putting highly functional electronic health record systems (EHR-S) at the fingertips of medical professionals and consumers alike."

In comments to ONC, they note that HL7 has a history of working with the federal government. In 2003, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services approached HL7 to develop functional requirements for EHR systems, so that such requirements could be used to certify EHR systems and support EHR adoption incentives. As a result of this relationship, HL7 produced the EHR-S Functional Model (EHR-S FM) as well as derived functional profiles such as Emergency Health, Child Health, Behavioral Health and Long Term and Post Acute Care that specify a number of conformance criteria.

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) has already used the EHR-S FM and its profiles to develop certification criteria. Therefore, the value of these standards for certification purposes has already been established.

HL7 made these recommendations:

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