A federal health information technology advisory panel unanimously accepted a special work group's recommendations for implementing the measures proposed in last year's health IT report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
The PCAST called on HHS to speed up its efforts to promote health information exchange and adopt a specific, Web-oriented "universal exchange language" that would use metadata tagging to identify specific data elements of a patient's health records. Tagged records, according to the PCAST, would make the data easier to locate for research but also would better protect patient privacy.
Work on the PCAST recommendations has kept HHS advisers busy since the report was released in December.
At a monthly meeting of the federally chartered Health IT Standards Committee this week, the committee's Metadata Analysis Power Team work group recommended that to help link the right records to the right patient, metadata tags should be affixed to data in fields for the patient's name, address, date of birth, current ZIP code and any available patient identifiers, such as those produced by health insurance companies for their members. According to the work group, the set represents "the minimum elements that are required to uniquely select a patient from a population with a guaranteed degree of accuracy."