Witnesses testifying at a daylong hearing in Washington on Monday protested that a proposed shift to a Web-based architecture for information exchange was simply too much change, too soon.
Hosting the hearing were three key federal advisory panels—the Health IT Policy Committee, its sister panel, the Health IT Standards Committee, and a work group they both constituted to study the recommendations that the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology made in a 108-page report (PDF) on the federal health IT promotional program.
PCAST recommended that the federal government push harder toward achieving advanced interoperability of electronic health-record systems by including requirements for information exchange in the Stage 2 criteria for meaningful use of EHR systems. Stage 2 criteria are set to take effect in 2013. The council also recommended applying federal pressure toward creating and adopting a common computer language for information exchange based on a to-be determined dialect of Web-oriented, extensible markup language, or XML.
In addition, to facilitate rapid search and retrieval, they recommended metadata tagging of patient information at the data-element level and establishing a network of data-element access services, or DEAS, to locate records using Web-oriented search and indexing techniques.
"I think you're telling us to go boldly where nobody has ever gone before,” said PCAST work group member Carl Gunter, a professor in the computer science department at the University of Illinois at Champaign. Gunter's remarks were directed at Craig Mundie, one of two PCAST members to attend the hearing and the chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft Corp.