HITSP and Consumers
Consumers in today’s global economy have become accustomed to instant access to information. News, music and movies can be accessed real-time on a handheld device. Products and services from multiple providers can be located, compared and purchased online. Financial accounts can be managed, bills can be paid electronically, and funds can be withdrawn at ATMs anywhere in the world.
When it comes to their personal health information, however, consumers have felt a speed bump on the information superhighway. The records exist, but doctors, pharmacies, and insurance companies use disparate systems that make the exchange of information slow and cumbersome.
The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) has been commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist in the development of a standards-based network that will support the nationwide exchange of healthcare data. The objective is improved and more efficient care for all Americans.
By making personal health information more easily accessible and transferable – while also protecting its security and privacy – consumers and their healthcare professionals will be empowered with the tools they need to make informed decisions about treatments, prescriptions and healthcare or lifestyle choices.
One of the Panel’s first projects focused on giving patients the ability to manage and control access to their registration and medication histories. This work, known as Interoperability Specification 03 (IS 03) – Consumer Empowerment, has already been recognized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and announced for mandatory implementation by all federal health systems. Its goals include:
- providing medical status and patient data to the provider at the point of care;
- reducing errors and unnecessary treatments;
- improving the diagnosis, treatment, and management of illnesses;
- alerting caregivers regarding drug-to-drug interactions when subsequent prescriptions are written;
- helping patients and their clinicians locate test results, medical history, and prescription data from a variety of sources;
- indicating to care providers which other physicians have information on a patient;
- reducing redundant collection of information such as name, address, insurance, medications, and allergies, making it easier for individuals to give their information and for clinicians to use it; and
- promoting active involvement of consumers in managing their healthcare.
A second project, Interoperability Specification 05 (IS 05) – Consumer Access to Clinical Information, will assist patients in making decisions regarding care and healthy lifestyles. Elements of a personal Electronic Health Record that could soon become available include registration information, medication histories, lab results, current and previous health conditions, allergies, summaries of healthcare encounters, and diagnoses.
Consumer representative organizations with an interest in healthcare information technology activities are participating directly in HITSP activities. In addition, all of the Panel’s proposed work products are published for public review and comment before approval.
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.