CMS, AHRQ announce new format for children's EHRs

A new electronic health record format is being developed to better capture and process health information about children, according to an announcement this week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Many current EHR systems have been designed for adult care, causing gaps when applied to treating children. The new format, authorized by the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, will include a minimum set of data elements and applicable data standards specifically with children in mind. Some of the elements the new format is expected to contain include immunizations, growth data, newborn screening tests and child abuse reporting.    

"Healthcare for children is a calling that carries special challenges," AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. said in the announcement. "This new children's EHR format will help software developers meet the needs of healthcare providers for children by combining best practices in clinical care, information technology and the contributions of health care providers who treat children every day."

Some of the next steps will be testing of the format and integrating it with the Meaningful Use requirements.

AHRQ, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, has invested over $300 million in contracts and grants to address its health IT initiatives. A number of projects funded relate to improvement of EHRs and patient care, including programs on clinical decision support, quality measurement enabled by health IT and electronic prescribing. 

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- read about the format
- learn about AHRQ's EHR projects