Toward a National Health Information Infrastructure: A Key Strategy for Improving Quality in Long-Term Care. I. TOWARD A NATIONAL HEALTH INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE


There has been growing interest in the use of electronic health information systems. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tommy Thompson, has emphasized as one of his main priorities the use of information technology in healthcare. In November of 2001 the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) issued a report to Secretary of HHS that called for Federal leadership in establishing a National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII).1 That report followed an 18-month period of hearings and consultations with consumers, providers, public health professionals, technology specialists, and policy makers. The first section of this paper provides an overview of the NCVHS report, and is followed by a discussion of the need for standards in order to achieve the goals of the NHII, the critical role of clinical terminologies in patient medical record information (PMRI) systems, and a discussion of the Minimum Data Set (MDS), a component of the Resident Assessment Instrument for Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing facilities in relation to NHII initiatives.

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