Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Final Report to AHIC

Today is the last meeting of the American Health Information Community, the country's "Board of Directors" for Healthcare IT, established by President Bush's Executive Order.

The agenda includes the transition of the AHIC working groups to the AHIC Successor, an overview of the progress we've made as a country on interoperability, and a summary of everything that CCHIT has accomplished to establish certification of EHRs, PHRs, and HIEs.

Here's a summary of my remarks on interoperability

The Health Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) has created a forum for stakeholders to talk about standards and resolve their differences. Over the past three years, the work HITSP has done on Problem lists, Medications, Notes, Allergies, Reports, Microbiology and Labs have brought together many stakeholders and resolved many differences. Whenever possible, we've reduced the choices for standards to one single, unambiguous implementation guide. Of course, not every debate is fully resolved, but as a country we're much closer to harmony today than 3 years ago.

600 different government/academic/payer/provider/vendor/consumer organizations, both large and small, have volunteered their time to work on these issues.

We've organized HITSP to ensure that standards are reused to the greatest extent possible. Our Domain Committees select the fewest number of standards possible and package them so that our Perspective committees can select from a small library of possibilities.

As of January 2009, HITSP will report to the AHIC Successor and will work on their prioritized Value Cases. What's a Value Case?

My simple definition is that a Value Case is a use case which takes into account
Strategic value to business users
Transaction volume if adopted
Return on investment of automated transaction flows
Compliance requirements (such as HIPAA, Medicare Part D)

On November 10, the Value Case process began with a meeting of a working group to define the first Value Case priorities for Clinical Research/Clinical Trials, a special extra HITSP use case authorized by AHIC and the Successor. This Value Case is important for two reasons - it will serve as a model future Value Case development and thus will impact the way future healthcare IT priorities are developed by the AHIC Successor. The implementation of this Value Case will be funded by a combination of public and private sources, not just the Office of the National Coordinator. If stakeholders are willing to pay for standards harmonization in the future, it may provide a means to fund HITSP's function without depending entirely on government sources.

Secretary Leavitt deserves our thanks for being a tireless supporter of healthcare IT and standards harmonization. HITSP volunteers are working overtime to ensure we finish all our 2008 harmonization goals over the next few weeks so that Secretary Leavitt can accept this work as part of the national standards recognition process.

After January 20's change in adminisration, I look forward to leading HITSP in 2009 and working with the new secretary of HHS, whoever that may be.