Standards Committee moves into guidance phase

It's getting to be crunch time for the federal Health IT Standards Committee, which is moving from studying previous work in the area of standards to producing implementation guidance for the hundreds of thousands of hospitals, physician practices, laboratories, pharmacies, imaging centers, health plans and the like that will be shifting to EMRs in the next few years. The committee this week approved recommendations from its workgroup on privacy and security, but now the task gets more difficult.

"You need to have the guidance to say 'how,'" co-chair Dr. John Halamka said at a committee meeting this week. "We don't want something that moves too fast, otherwise people will fall off."

Among the details panel members must work through in the coming months are: how quality measures will move from EMRs to CMS for analysis; how EMRs can indicate real-time performance; whether a healthcare organization can demonstrate "meaningful use" of health IT on its own or must it depend on another entity in the community; and what data elements are missing.

To learn more about the next steps for the HIT Standards Committee:
- see this Healthcare IT News story
- have a look at this Health Data Management piece
- read the committee's report (.ppt)