'HITSP is not on vacation,' Chair John Halamka says

By Diana Manos
09:38 AM

The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel is "working triple time" on preparing to help providers and vendors apply the stimulus package requirements, according to its chairman.

"HITSP is not taking a hiatus or a vacation," John Halamka, MD, CIO of Harvard Medical School and CareGroup, told attendees of a HITSP Town Hall Tuesday at HIMSS09.

HITSP plans to accomplish everything on its slate for 2009, he said, but will focus over the next 90 days on simplifying its recognized use case work into "lightweight interoperability specifications" that should be easily understood and available online. The new instructions should help users speed their ARRA preparation by removing the context specificity found in the original use cases, allowing for adaptation.

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Though "meaningful use" under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)
has yet to be defined by the next Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Halamka said it will likely include elements of HHS-recognized HITSP use cases.

"The one thing I can guarantee is quality measurement," he said. "ARRA has the word 'quality' written all over it."

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will have" a laser-like focus on quality and efficiency," Halamka said of conversations he has had with incoming National Coordinator David Blumenthal, MD.

Halamka explained how federal advisory committees will work under the ARRA. The health IT policy committee will become the figurative "new board of directors," replacing AHIC and AHIC 2.0, and at least 13 of the 20 members have been named.
The Standards Committee has 1,000 nominees, with none appointed yet. Its work will involve taking the priorities created by the health IT policy committee and making them "much more granular."

From there, HITSP will take the recommendations and continue in its role as an independent standards harmonization organization, Halamka said.