Advisory group calls for standardized e-medical records

A federally chartered IT advisory group approved a recommendation on Aug. 1 to request that the federal government identify and prioritize by October the key data elements to be used in a medical electronic record available to first responders.

The American Health Information Community recommended that the first responders should be able to access electronically information on the patient's demographics, medications, allergies and a "problem list" of diseases and symptoms under management, said Lilee Gelinas, co-chair of the community's working group on electronic health records.

She delivered the working group's recommendation at the community's Aug. 1 meeting, where it was adopted by the full community. The group advises the Health and Human Services Department on IT issues.

The goal of the data elements report is to harmonize standards for e-records for emergency responders that are in development by several federal agencies. The HSS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is expected to direct the report, which will describe the role of an e-record as it would be used by emergency responders in their delivery of patient care.

The need for electronic medical records was identified in reports on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, Gelinas said. Providers and care facilities that were treating evacuees said they needed to access patient medical information to provide the most effective care.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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