A fast-track plan to adopt voluntary national standards for electronic medical records has hit a bump in the road.
Last month, members of healthcare standards-setting organization Health Level Seven rejected a proposal that had been the subject of weeks of public vetting and amendment.
"It was voted down pretty soundly," says Mark Leavitt, M.D., vice president of clinical initiatives at GE Medical Systems Information Technologies, Waukesha, Wis.
"This is not a surprise to some of the government folks that were there," says John Quinn, a Cleveland-based consultant for Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and chairman of HL7's technical standards committee. "We seldom have anything that ever passes on the first ballot."
According to Quinn, "It represents the fact that providers and the government wanted a more prescriptive standard, one that is more detailed than the IOM called for, while the vendors would like to keep it fairly optional."
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on July 1 asked the Institute of Medicine to develop an EMR standard within two months. The IOM then turned to HL7 to solicit proposals and find industry consensus.
Quinn says HL7 hopes to refine the language and put a new proposal to a vote at the next HL7 national meeting, to be held in January.
"Now they have five months to get it right," Leavitt says.