The American Medical Association today has thrown its support behind a multiparty effort to develop a standard list of elements for a patient-portable healthcare record.
The groundwork was laid last August for what is now called the Continuity of Care Record at a meeting of representatives of the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Patient Safety Institute in conjunction with the ASTM International, a West Conshohocken, Pa., developer of industry-specific standards,
The AAFP Web site defines the Continuity of Care Record as "a new XML document standard for a summary of personal health information that clinicians can send when a patient is referred and that patients can carry with them to promote continuity, quality, and safety of care."
AMA board member Joe Heyman, M.D., a gynecologist in solo practice in Amesbury, Mass., is chairman of the AMA's electronic health record workgroup. Heyman says the AMA endorsed the effort because the standard proposed was both needed and simple.
"The beauty is in its simplicity, that's why we're supporting it," Heyman said. "It's not like we're opposing anything more complicated, but we think it's about time someone got started, and this is a great way to get started."
The CCR standard contains about 100 data elements, according to Daniel Smith, staff manager for the ASTM committee on healthcare informatics that developed the standard. The committee met and approved the standard April 6 after a monthlong balloting process that generated votes from about 250 ASTM member stakeholders who included physicians, nurses and IT vendors, Smith said.
The committee will make some needed editorial revisions highlighted at the April meeting and should have the standard ready for publication by June, Smith said. Copies will be sold by ASTM for $40 to $45, he said.
Heyman, who uses an electronic medical record system in his practice, described the difference between an EMR and the proposed CCR.
"In my office all by myself, I can keep records of every patient electronically," Heyman said. "But a personal health record would be a record that a patient could access over the Internet and the patient or the physician could populate certain parts of it. Whenever and wherever you are in the United States, someone could access it, given the permission of the patient."
The record could include patient demographics, medications taken, allergies, past diagnoses and insurance information, he said.