Electronic health records advanced as a high-profile issue on two fronts. A standards group called Health Level 7 unveiled a consensus document defining the essential functions of such systems. Also, HHS named David Brailer, a senior fellow at the Health Technology Center in San Francisco, to fill a newly created position to coordinate the nation's healthcare IT efforts. Health Level 7 said it had obtained overwhelming industry approval of a draft "functional model" for electronic health records that will be tested over a two-year period. The model, which now contains 130 identified functions, would then become an officially accredited standard.
HHS has expressed keen interest in defining the functions of an electronic record as part of its effort to promote technology in healthcare. At a hastily organized IT summit of prominent healthcare representatives in Washington, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced Brailer's appointment as national health information technology coordinator. President Bush created the position last week to help achieve his goal of ensuring every American has an electronic health record in 10 years. Brailer served 10 years as chairman and chief executive officer of Care Science, a company that developed software for detecting and resolving clinical problems in hospitals. He also was instrumental in developing and overseeing a regional health information coordination project in Santa Barbara County, Calif. -- by John Morrissey