health services research communities on data standards issues. This consortium serves as a mechanism for ongoing representation of public health and health services research interests in HIPAA implementation and other data standards–setting processes. Its membership comprises a variety of state-based public health data organizations, health services research organizations, federal public health representatives (e.g., CDC, AHRQ, and CMS), managed care organizations, business coalitions, and consumer groups. The consortium’s tasks have included an ad hoc work group on External Causes of Injury Codes (E-Codes), which will evaluate current practices in E-Codes collection and propose next steps to improve E-Codes reporting in discharge data systems and electronic reporting standards. Two other consortium work groups recently developed a standardized format as a guide for reporting health care service data. This guide is compatible with the health claim transaction set standards identified by HIPAA. It is intended to provide assistance in developing and executing the electronic transfer of health care systems data for reporting purposes to local, state, and federal agencies that use the data for monitoring utilization rates, assessing patterns of health care quality and access, and other purposes required by legislative and regulatory mandates. Given the past difficulties and financial constraints of state-based public health organizations, the consortium could serve as one of the key facilitators helping states to implement national data standards for the NHII and guiding implementation of the common format for reporting to the AHRQ national patient safety database.
In addition to the efforts of NCVHS, other activities to promotion and implement data standards are being conducted in the private sector. The Markle Foundation’s Connecting for Health initiative is focusing on building consensus around and accelerating the development of clinical data standards. In June 2003, this initiative released the results of a 9-month collaborative effort focused on key aspects of the adoption of clinical data standards, which included identifying strategies and solutions for the secure and private transmission of medical information and actively working to understand what consumers will need and expect from an interconnected electronic health system.
Another recent private-sector effort in the area of promotion and implementation of data standards is the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, founded in June 2002 by the American Hospital Associa-