11 Mar HHS Seeks Candidates for HIT Standards and Policy Committee
Madison – The US Department of Health and Human Services is seeking nominations for individuals to make recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic exchange and use of health information for purposes of health information technology adoption.
There is an urgency that these nominations be submitted for appointments to either the HIT Standards Committee or the HIT Policy Committee, no later than March 16, 2009, to ensure adequate opportunity for review and consideration of nominees prior to appointment of members.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 amends the Public Health Service Act. The new section 3003 of the PHSA establishes the HIT Standards Committee to make The HIT Standards Committee members are to be appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services with the National Coordinator taking a leading role.
“President Obama has made the rapid establishment of a national e-health information system a clear priority, and Congress has reinforced that goal through passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This objective is central to the National eHealth Collaborative’s vision and mission of fostering the effective use of interoperable health information and leading the creation of a secure interoperable nationwide health system that will advance the public’s interest in health and improve the quality, safety, efficiency and accessibility of healthcare for all Americans,” says says John Tooker, MD, Chair of the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) Board of Directors. Dr. Tooker is also the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American College of Physicians and one of three original incorporators of NeHC.
Membership of the HIT Standards Committee should at least reflect the following categories of stakeholders and will include other individuals: providers, ancillary healthcare workers, consumers, purchasers, health plans, technology vendors, researchers, relevant Federal agencies, and individuals with technical expertise on health care quality, privacy and security, and on the electronic exchange and use of health information.
Dr Tooker says, “The HIT Standards Committee established by the ARRA will bring central focus and urgency to the interoperability efforts needed for such a nationwide network through the development of national standards, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services was given the option by Congress to recognize the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) as this Committee. However, the ARRA sets an aggressive timetable, which understandably requires that HHS move forward with a nominations process even as we await confirmation of a new Secretary. ”
HHS is also seeking nominations to the HIT Policy Committee (established by the new section 3002 of the PHSA), which makes recommendations to the National Coordinator on the implementation of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure.
“We cannot expect to deliver electronic health records to all Americans by 2014 without further work on a variety of standards, extending beyond data exchange and interoperability,” says Dr. Barry Chaiken, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of DocsNetwork and formerly with McKesson and BearingPoint.
The HIT Policy Committee will consist of at least 20 members of which the HHS Secretary will appoint three members. Of the three members, one must be a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services and one must be a public health official. If, 45 days after the enactment of the Act, an official authorized under the Act to make appointments to the HIT Policy Committee has failed to make an appointment(s), the Act authorizes the Secretary of HHS to make such appointments. The Department of Health and Human Services is consequently accepting nominations for the HIT Policy Committee.
New section 3008 of the PHSA allows the Secretary to recognize the National ehealth Collaborative (if modified to be consistent with the requirements of section 3002 and 3003 of the Act and other federal laws) as either the HIT Policy Committee or the HIT Standards Committee. At this time, the Department of Health and Human Services is evaluating options regarding the National eHealth Collaborative and its role in relation to those Committees.
“The goals of NeHC and those of the HIT Standards Committee are highly complementary and NeHC’s already established and cross-functioning group of experts would be a strong asset to the work envisioned by the legislation. We remain committed to this possibility, and look forward to quickly engaging in a discussion about this and other possible NeHC contributions with Secretary-Designate Kathleen Sebelius upon her confirmation,” says Dr. Tooker.
“To efficiently and effectively deploy EHRs, implementation processes and use standards must be developed and disseminated to ensure that our physician community is equipped with a best practice roadmap for using this technology. We painfully know that poorly implemented health IT can cause harm and waste valuable resources. This is a special opportunity in the deployment of health IT and we must get this done right. It will be a long time before we get a second chance says Dr. Chaiken, ” who is also incoming Chair of HIMSS and Conference Chair of the Digital Healthcare Conference, produced by WTN Media.
To apply contact the Office of the National Coordinator, Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20201, attention, Judith Sparrow, Room 729D. Email address:, HIT_FACA_nominations@hhs.gov. Please indicate in your letter or email to which Committee your nomination belongs.