At the Office of the National Coordinator's Health Information Technology Standards Committee meeting Wednesday, Dan Rode, vice president for policy and government relations for the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association, submitted a letter agreeing in part and disagreeing in part with the committee's April recommendations on medical vocabularies.
The AHIMA letter called for a greater federal role in coordinating medical vocabularies and enforcement of their appropriate use.
In its letter, AHIMA agreed with the Health IT Standards Committee that the federal government should set up an oversight organization for the use of medical vocabularies in the U.S. and to represent the U.S. on various international medical-terminology organizations. AHIMA disagreed with the committee's recommendation that the scope of this new oversight body be limited to the meaningful-use requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The Health IT Standards Committee was created through the stimulus law to make recommendations on healthcare IT issues to the ONC.
“We cannot completely endorse your recommendation because it focuses only on meaningful use,” Rode said at the meeting. “Certainly, meaningful use is a priority and it needs to be addressed,” he said, but to set up an organization to deal only with meaningful use “falls short” of industry needs.
Rode also said AHIMA recommends that the government consider designating the National Library of Medicine to serve as the U.S. oversight body.
In its letter, AHIMA said it agrees that a single federal entity should be responsible for creating, maintaining and disseminating all controlled vocabularies designated for use through the Health IT Policy Committee or a similar industry authority. The U.S., it said, "cannot continue to have a laissez-faire approach to managing vocabularies and hope to achieve semantic interoperability and improved population health outcomes.”