Core Health Data Elements: Report of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics. Recommendations to the Department


1. The Committee supports the HHS Data Council in its formation of the Health Data Standards Committee to focus attention on the needs for standardized data both within the Department and in the health care community at large and to foster collaboration and consensus with the major standards-setting organizations. To this end, the Committee recommends that the Data Council:

  • Circulate the report within the Department for review and constructive criticism.
    • Investigate the formation of leadership sites within the Department for each of the standards-setting organizations.
    • Refer the core health data elements recommendations to the National Uniform Claim Committee for their consideration as they study the issue of uniform data elements for paper and electronic collection in Fall 1996.
    • Provide stable resources to the project to establish an interdepartmental work group, with DHHS taking the lead, to work with the key standards-setting organizations in the area of core health data elements.

2. The Committee recommends the following actions specifically related to the core data elements:

  • For those elements that the Committee recommends as being ready to standardize, request each of the data collection entities within the Department to review the set of data elements and to match data contents and definitions with similar items that they are currently collecting or plan to collect. Report to the HHS Data Council on the viability of these elements and definitions being adopted in their program. If a reporting entity is using a different element or definition, explain why their current usage is preferable.
  • Support implementation and testing activities for those data elements for which agreement on definitions has been reached and those for which minimal additional work is needed on definitional agreement. Public and private participants have indicated a willingness to work together to disseminate information, test data elements, and utilize electronic means to ensure the widest dissemination of these activities.
  • For those data elements which have been recognized as significant core elements, but for which there is not consensus on definition, support the formation of a public-private working group to conduct or coordinate additional study or research and to further refine definitions. This group, or a separate group, could also be the focus for evaluating additions to the list of core data elements and for setting up methods for testing and promulgating the final products.
  • Place the Committee's report, elements and definitions on an appropriate departmental Home Page as guidance to the field and as a means of encouraging use and soliciting further comments and suggestions while the report is under review within the Department.

3. Because agreement on a unique personal identifier is recognized as a key element to the successful establishment of core data elements, and their use, support the formation of a public-private working group to study and provide recommendations in this area.

4. Support the NCVHS continuing its work in this area, especially using its expertise to discuss research issues, to assist in consensus building, and to participate with the Data Council in the implementation of the core data element project recommendations.