Standards Committee Endorses Set of EHR Vocabulary Standards

The Health IT Standards Committee has endorsed a single set of vocabulary standards and a guide for implementing the standards for each of the quality reporting measures for the meaningful use program, Government Health IT reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.

The committee will recommend that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT incorporate the vocabulary standards and guides in Stage 2 of the meaningful use requirements.

Details of the Endorsement

The endorsement comes after the committee made adjustments to recommendations from two of its workgroups, which called for requiring a minimal number of vocabulary standards.

John Halamka -- Health IT Standards Committee co-chair and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center -- said the panel has selected one standard for every category of vocabulary.

The standards that the panel recommended for various quality measures are:

  • Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine-Clinical Terms, also called SNOMED-CT;
  • Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, also called LOINC; or
  • RxNorm.

Possible Challenges

Wes Rishel -- a committee member, and vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner's health care provider research practice -- noted that it might be difficult to encourage health care providers to adopt the vocabulary standards.

Rishel recommended that policymakers continue soliciting public feedback on the standards development process (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 8/18).

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