To ensure that a broad spectrum of voices in the information technology industry is heard when minimum electronic medical records standards are set, the Chicago-based Healthcare Information Management Systems Society has formed an advisory committee to provide input to the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology that HIMSS helped found earlier this year.
HIMSS, the American Health Information Management Association and the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, also based in Chicago, joined in July to form the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.
The goal of the commission is to create a process by which healthcare IT can be checked and evaluated for interoperability "with emerging local and national health information infrastructures." Setting a certification procedure for electronic medical records systems for physician offices is their first target.
HHS' national healthcare information technology coordinator, David Brailer, M.D., had asked the private sector to come up with a certification procedure as a precursor to any government help in paying for the installation of clinical IT systems.
The IT vendor community has three members on the 14-member certification commission: Andrew Ury, M.D., founder and president of Seattle-based Physician Micro Systems; Graham King, retired president of McKesson Information Solutions and currently an advisor to the company; and Mark Leavitt, M.D., chief medical officer at HIMSS.
Steve Lieber, president and chief executive officer of HIMSS, said the commission is independent of the three founding groups, so the organization needs to make sure all industry voices are heard throughout the standards-setting process.
"What we have to make sure of -- from the HIMSS standpoint representing a very broad industry -- we have to create the mechanisms to get as many voices heard as possible," Lieber said. "We need to bounce it off these interest groups to make sure we're not mis-stepping in the development of the certification process."
About 65 representatives from the new IT advisory group met last week in Washington, D.C., at the initial gathering of the committee. The group will have no defined limit on members, nor will it require that they be HIMSS members, Lieber said. Its next meeting is scheduled two days after the certification commission meets Oct. 25 to announce the formation of work groups.
Lieber said an early step for the advisory group is to field to the commission members a list of IT industry experts willing to serve on the work groups.
In addition to Ury and Leavitt, five other physicians are on the commission: Douglas Henley, M.D., executive vice president and CEO of the American Academy of Family Physicians; John Tooker, M.D., executive vice president and CEO of the American College of Physicians; C. Martin Harris, M.D., chief information officer of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation; Charles Kennedy, M.D., vice president of clinical informatics for WellPoint Health Networks, Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior vice president, consumer health and medical care advancement, UnitedHealth Group, Minnetonka, Minn.
Other provider organization representatives are John Hummel, senior vice president of information systems and corporate CIO of Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif.; and Susan Postal, vice president of health information management services for HCA, Nashville.