Post-AHIC health IT standards process gets under way

By Nancy zz_Ferris
12:57 PM

The first health information technology standards prioritization workgroup to form outside the American Health Information Community process is seeking to identify priority standards for cross-fertilization of clinical practice and clinical research.

At its initial meeting Nov. 10, the Electronic Health Records workgroup determined that its initial priority would be a clinical research core data set. Members also agreed to develop a consensus vision statement.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), an independent non-profit organization, has formed the EHR Clinical Research Value Case Workgroup. ANSI appointed Dr. Rebecca Kush, president and chief executive officer of the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium, and Dr. Gregory Downing, director of the Initiative on Personalized Health Care at the Health and Human Services Department, to co-chair the workgroup.

Fran Schrotter, ANSI senior vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement, "This workgroup has an important opportunity to ensure that clinical research needs are addressed in the work that is done within [the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel] to harmonize EHR standards."

The workgroup is working without federal funding, and its leaders are seeking government and private monies to support its harmonization projects.

The workgroup will largely follow the process developed by the Bush administration and its American Health Information Community. The AHIC, a high-level HHS advisory panel, has been disbanded as the administration draws to a close. A successor organization is forming outside the government.

The AHIC process involved creating workgroups with representatives of all interested parties, then asking the workgroup to determine which aspects of health care could most readily be improved by establishing IT standards.

Once the priority needs were identified, HHS developed a use case, or scenario, to pinpoint the data exchanges that would be needed to automate the process. The use case was turned over to HITSP for harmonization, or selection, of standards for those data exchanges. After the AHIC ratified the selections, HHS officially adopted them.

"The workgroup's initial priority of identifying a common set of information that can readily be exchanged between EHRs and clinical research systems will provide a foundation for future value cases such as safety reporting, patient participation in research and personalized health care, with a vision of ultimately creating an infrastructure through which health care advances clinical research, which in turn informs clinical care," Kush said in a statement.

Kush and others had asked the AHIC earlier this year to form a federally sponsored workgroup to help integrate clinical research data needs into EHRs, but the panel did not grant the request. It was dominated by representatives of the health care delivery and payer communities.