Magazine article Drug Topics

Standards Unveiled for Personal Health Records

Magazine article Drug Topics

Standards Unveiled for Personal Health Records

Article excerpt

While the nation waits for the electronic health record (EHR) to become an everyday reality, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is pushing for widespread use of personal health records (PHRs), which are controlled by the consumer and include a medication history. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt recently accepted the first set of interoperability standards for PHR, hammered out over many months by the Health Information Technology Standards Panel (HTTSP).

A public/private group under contract from HHS to "harmonize" many standards for health data exchange, HITSP chooses from among a number of well-established standards. The panel, part of the structure surrounding the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), is closely related to the certification of EHRs. The PHR standards designated include the "Federal Medication Terminologies" and the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT Standard Implementation Guide Version 8.1.

Despite different definitions for PHRs and different versions available from commercial vendors and others, the new standards see consumers creating an account to host their registration information and medication history, then authorizing healthcare providers, pharmacists, and payers to access that information. A recent report from an HHS advisory committee said PHR data "may be stored in a variety of locations, including an Internet-accessible database, a provider's electronic health record (EHR), the consumer/patient's home computer, a portable device such as a smart card or thumb drive, or a privately maintained database."

Presenting the standards, HTTSP stressed, "Most individuals do not know the specific medications and exact dosages prescribed to them, and often don't know their allergies.... An electronic medication history would have all current data available to the individual and each authorized healthcare provider."

The standards are designed to enable many functions, including authenticating consumers, designated caregivers, and healthcare professionals; querying other organizations for data and matching to the consumer; accepting "batch" data from other organizations and matching to the appropriate consumers; and accessing, viewing, and sharing registration summaries and medication histories. …

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