Whats the difference between an EMR, an EHR and a PHR?
Why is an HIE not a RHIO?
Does anyone really care?
Well, yes, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS cares enough to pay contractors close to a half million dollars to come up with the answers.
ONCHIT awarded a contract to technology and management consultant BearingPoint, McLean, Va., to develop consensus definitions for the initialisms and one acronym, some of which (EMR and EHR, HIE and RHIO) are often used interchangeably by the healthcare hoi polloi but are occasionally argued over vehemently by the IT cognoscenti.
The National Alliance for Health Information Technology has been awarded a subcontract by BearingPoint to provide the services and the research and the access to the stakeholders to develop consensus definitions for these key terms that are relevant to healthcare IT, according to Scott Wallace, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago-based not-for profit.
The goal is to go out into the field and see what is the consensus view, said Wallace. Because of conflicting meanings of terms, we dont have a way of communication about what were trying to do. That confusion between EHR and EMR sounds trivial, but it gets in the way a lot.
The methodology, Wallace said, is to go to various organizations in healthcare and ask for volunteers to serve on a work group. Members will help NAHIT do the sifting of the input from three public town hall meetings and from a Web site, definitions.nahit.org.
Our final deliverable is due March 28, Wallace said. It will be proposed consensus definitions of those five terms and those consensus definitions will need to be accepted by and adopted by AHIC (the American Health Information Community, a federal IT advisory panel created by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt in 2005). The process will be very open and very transparent.
Jane Horowitz, the alliances vice president and chief marketing officer, will be coordinating the project for NAHIT. Horowitz said nominations for work group members will be accepted starting Nov. 5. Interested individuals can sign up for a listserv at the Web site, which is also equipped to receive comments and definitions, she said. Dates of the public meetings are not final, but tentatively have been set for the weeks of Dec. 10-14 in Los Angeles, January 14-18 in Washington, D.C., and Feb. 11-15 in Houston.
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