ANSI-Approved Health IT Standard Announced
Electronic health records are advocated by the federal government and many health advocacy groups as a way to make sure that doctors have more complete information when caring for patients.A health IT standards group released a new, more-comprehensive standard for electronic health records on Feb. 21. The standard, released by Health Level Seven, is the first that specifies functional requirements for electronic health-records systems to win approval from the American National Standards Institute, a key standard-setting body. Electronic health records are advocated by the federal government and many health advocacy groups as a way to make sure that doctors have more complete information when caring for patients. Besides cost, one large barrier to EHR use is that different EHR systems cannot work together to exchange information, a problem that could be greatly alleviated by industry-wide standards.
But health IT is plagued by competing standards, often developed by different sets of experts for different purposes. The problem is widely recognized. Earlier this month, HL7 and ASTM International, another standards organization, announced a merged standard for describing patients medical histories and demographics when discharged from a health institution. The move was heralded as an important advance in creating a nationwide health-information network.