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Healhcare Information Technology Standards Panel
HealthCare Information Technology Standards Panel
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HITSP is chaired by Dr. John Halamka, Chief Information Officer of Harvard Medical School.

HITSP, Government Representatives and Policy Makers


“Within ten years, every American must have a personal electronic medical record...”
- President George W. Bush, April 26, 2004

When President Bush called for every American to have an electronic health record by 2014, he was outlining his vision for a healthier nation. To help make this vision a reality, the public and private sectors need to work together in define and build an information network that would support the secure exchange of health data across the United States.

A National Health Information Network (NHIN) will connect providers, consumers, and others involved in supporting health and healthcare. It will enable health information to follow the consumer, making health records, laboratory results, medication information, and related medical data readily available and accessible to providers, pharmacists, and even consumers. At the same time, the NHIN will ensure that consumers' health information remains secure and confidential in the electronic environment.

In late 2005, the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist in developing the NHIN.; The Panel operates under a contract administered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT).

HITSP's role is to harmonize and recommend the technical standards necessary to assure the interoperability of electronic health records. Priorities for the Panel's work are established by the American Heath Information Community (AHIC), an advisory body to the Secretary of HHS that makes recommendations to the Secretary about how to accelerate adoption of interoperable health IT in a smooth, market-led way.

The first priorities assigned to HITSP were in the areas of Electronic Health Records (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). In January 2007, HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt accepted HITSP's recommended standards, known as "Interoperability Specifications (IS)", for a one-year period of implementation testing. In January 2008, the Secretary announced his formal recognition of the HITSP IS.

According to Executive Order 13410 signed by President George W. Bush in August 2006, federal agencies administering or sponsoring federal health programs must implement any and all relevant recognized interoperability standards. These standards also become part of the certification process for electronic health records and networks.

Three additional sets of HITSP IS - Emergency Responder-Electronic Health Records; Consumer Access to Clinical Information; and Quality - were accepted by the Secretary for implementation testing in January 2008. A new IS on Medication Management is being submitted to the Secretary for acceptance in Spring 2008.

New work is also underway to address interoperability needs in six additional areas: personalized health, transfer of care, remote monitoring, secure communications between patients and providers, public health case reporting, and immunizations and response.

From consumers to doctors, nurses and hospitals; from those who develop health care IT products to those who use them; and from government agencies to organizations that are developing the standards upon which these new health systems are based - everyone has a role to play in shaping the new U.S. healthcare IT infrastructure.

Government agencies with an interest in healthcare information technology activities are encouraged to participate directly in HITSP activities, either as a member of by participating in the public review and comment of HITSP's proposed work products.


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