Subsequently, in June 2005, DHHS announced the establishment of the American Health Information Community (AHIC), a commission of members from the public and private sectors, to advise the Secretary concerning efforts to develop IT standards and achieve interoperability for health IT. In particular, the AHIC is expected to develop recommendations for the following:

  • Protecting health information through appropriate privacy and security practices.

  • Achieving ongoing harmony of industrywide health IT standards.

  • Achieving a nationwide, Internet-based health information network that includes information tools, specialized network functions, and security protections for interoperable exchange of health information.

  • Accelerating the adoption of interoperable EHRs across the broad spectrum of health care providers.

  • Developing compliance certification and inspection processes for EHRs, including the infrastructure components through which EHRs can interoperate.

  • Identifying health IT standards for use by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in an information processing standards-setting process relevant to federal agencies.

  • Identifying and prioritizing specific uses for which health IT is valuable, beneficial, and feasible.

  • Transitioning the work of the AHIC to a private-sector health information initiative (DHHS, 2005a).

Electronic Health Records3

An EHR system encompasses (1) the longitudinal collection of electronic information pertaining to an individual’s health and health care; (2) immediate electronic access—by authorized users only—to person- and population-level information; (3) provision of knowledge and decision support to enhance the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient care; and (4) support for efficient processes of health care delivery (IOM, 2003).

As noted in Chapter 5, although still a minority, increasing numbers of hospitals and ambulatory practices are investing in EHRs, although this


In addition to the development of EHRs, architects of the NHII are calling for the establishment of personal health records (PHRs)—an electronic, lifelong resource of health information needed by consumers to make health decisions. Consumers/patients own and manage the information in their PHR, which comes from health care providers and the patient. The PHR is maintained in a secure and private environment, with the patient determining who has the right to access it. The PHR does not replace the legal record of any provider (AHIMA e-HIM Personal Health Record Work Group, 2005).

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