Markle Connecting for Health Applauds HHS Secretary Thompson's Endorsement of Clinical Data Standards | Markle | Advancing America's Future

Markle Connecting for Health Applauds HHS Secretary Thompson’s Endorsement of Clinical Data Standards

Publication Date: March 21, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC—Markle Connecting for Health, a collaborative of more than 90 private and public health care organizations supported by the Markle Foundation, today applauded Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson for his endorsement of clinical data standards adoption and the work of the federal government’s Consolidated Health Informatics initiative. The use of standards in clinical information systems with proper privacy and security safeguards will provide clinicians and patients with timely access to vital information to support high quality health care and improved patient safety. Clinical data standards also strengthen efforts to create portable electronic medical records.

Since it was launched last September, Markle Connecting for Health has found widespread support for the adoption of clinical data standards in the medical community, in private industry, in government, among consumer advocates, and beyond. Several senior-level officials within the Department of Health and Human Services and in other federal agencies participate in Markle Connecting for Health and are also involved with the federally-led effort to use standards called the Consolidated Health Informatics Initiative.

“The standards announced today by Secretary Thompson are well supported by many leaders in the health care industry,” said Carol C. Diamond, M.D., chair of the Steering Committee of Markle Connecting for Health and managing director of the Markle Foundation’s Information Technologies for Better Health group. “Connecting for Health is an ambitious public-private initiative that is working with many entities, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. We believe our synergistic efforts will ultimately benefit both patients and providers.”

The Federal Government is showing leadership that has the potential to save lives in the nation’s hospitals,” said Herbert Pardes, MD, President and CEO, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and executive vice chair of Markle Connecting for Health. “Computers that have medically critical information can only be linked at great expense, often beyond the means of many hospitals. Yet if these computers could be linked and share data, we would vastly reduce potential errors. Markle Connecting for Health is particularly gratified that Secretary Thompson has put into place a way to encourage vendors to make computer systems work together and for hospitals to integrate such systems into patient care. Hospitals have sought the government’s imprimatur for standards for years. Today’s action is the support we have needed.”

Today’s announcement specifically calls for all federal agencies to adopt Health Level 7 messaging standards, certain National Council on Prescription Drug Programs standards, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 1073 series of standards, the Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine standards and the laboratory Logical Observation Identifier Name Codes.

In September 2002, the Steering Group of Markle Connecting for Health obtained general agreement on the same set of standards, signaling widespread support by many constituencies in the health care community. The Steering Group is comprised of nationally recognized leading clinicians, hospitals, employers, third-party payers, government organizations, information technology suppliers, academic and research institutions, national standards groups, manufacturers, community organizations, and consumer groups.

“Use of Web-based information technology that follows open standards and is interoperable is critical in the nation’s drive to improve healthcare quality, safety and cost efficiency. Healthcare stakeholders in the private sector are fully committed to helping public health and other federal agencies adopt this technology,” said Russell J. Ricci, MD and general manager, IBM Global Healthcare, and executive vice chair of Markle Connecting for Health.

During his remarks today, Secretary Thompson also announced the Administration’s support for a national health information infrastructure, an idea recently endorsed by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics.

“Today’s remarks represent a critical step forward for health care and patients,” said John Lumpkin, MD, MPH, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, chair of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, and executive vice-chair of Markle Connecting for Health. “The creation of a national health information infrastructure will provide ready access to relevant, reliable information, enabling consumers, patients, practicing clinicians, and public health agencies to address personal and community health needs more effectively.”

Markle Connecting for Health is also addressing two other key aspects related to a national health information infrastructure that need to be considered as we pursue the adoption of clinical data standards: (1) identifying and communicating practical strategies and solutions for the secure and private transmission of medical information and (2) actively working to understand what consumers will need and expect from an interconnected, electronic health system. The results of this 9 month collaborative will be released on June 5th in Washington DC.