Advance efforts to coordinate health data standards within HHS, within the Federal government, and with state and local agencies and the private sector.
One of the biggest issues for health data today is the lack of shared data standards. The lack of shared standards increases paperwork and data collection burdens, and reduces the analytic potential of health data. Without consistent use of data standards, there is little ability to make multiple uses of or link data, limiting the usefulness of HHS data to our public and private data customers and State partners, and vice versa. The need for shared health data standards encompasses the need for better agreement on common health data vocabularies, assurances of privacy, and other issues surrounding electronic transmission of information. The need for shared data standards goes well beyond HHS; the private sector and the states have been urging the federal government to provide leadership in this area. Many other federal agencies are affected as well.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), enacted in August as P.L. 104-191, directs the Secretary of HHS to adopt standards for the electronic transmission of certain administrative and financial transactions, such as health care claims and health plan enrollments. The Administrative Simplification part of the statute requires all health care plans, all health care clearinghouses, and health care providers who carry out such transactions electronically to use the adopted standards in order to decrease the cost of administrative overhead and thus increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system.
The Committee on Health Data Standards manages the implementation of Administrative Simplification under the oversight of the HHS Data Council. The Committee's agenda will be updated accordingly as the specifics evolve.
This Committee has developed a detailed workplan that covers three areas of activities:
- Coordinating federal health data standards activity.
- Developing strategies for federal support and use of standards for health data elements, valid ranges of values, and transmission of health data.
- Formulating the results of studies and standards activities so that they are useful to state and local agencies.
The complete Health Data Standards Work Plan includes detailed lists of action items in each area.
The following documents are the products of this Committee to date. Work in progress is not linked.
- Data Council Policy on Health Data Standards
- Standards Section of the Interim Data Council Report to the Vice President
- Survey of Current Activities of Selected Private Sector Healthcare Informatics Standards Organizations
- Survey of Selected Federal Health Data Standards Activities
There are many organizations working on health data standards at different levels, from policy to implementation guides to the minutiae of EDI messages. Some of these organizations carry the imprimatur of being accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), but many are contributing to this nation-wide volunteer effort without such association. The following list of some of the health-related standards developing organizations (SDOs) provides links to their web pages where they are known.