[ Thursday, June 22, 2006 ]


"Clinical HIPAA?" Interesting article in HealthLeaders today on the need to standardize clinical data in digital format, and how the benefits from such standardization will far outstrip the benefits from standardizing a handful of transactions, but will be harder to jump-start than the standardization of transactions. Basically, HIPAA (the transactions and code sets part) standardized transactions, particularly the form and format of the data to be included in the transaction. If we're going to move toward toward EMR, EHRs, PHRs, or whatever you want to call them, we not only need to digitize the data that make up those medical records, we need to standardize the form and content of that information, as much as possible. "Digitization" can't just mean scanning copies of old records, although even that would be a bit of an improvement; rather, we need to convert existing medical information into meaningful digital information that can be easily scanned, reviewed, collated, compiled, etc. Obviously, diagnosing a medical condition isn't like diagnosing a car problem, nor is medical information particularly suited to fill-in-the-box categorization. But there are large parts of it that are; how else could we have CPT and DRG codes? Can we get those easily-categorized parts of medical records into consistent digital form and content, as part of the migration to EMRs? And where will the push come from? Where is the right place to put that pressure? Are there lessons to be learned from the TCS part of HIPAA implementation? I'm sure there are.

Jeff [8:55 AM]

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