Information technology has made it simpler and more convenient to handle a myriad of tasks online, such as booking a hotel, paying bills and ordering clothes. Widespread adoption and use of information technology also can help improve health care safety, quality and efficiency. But, the health care industry has lagged behind, largely because of a lack of common standards. While numerous health care organizations, both public and private, are developing specifications and standards, these activities are often uncoordinated, leading to duplication of efforts and incompatible software and tools.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with standards development groups and others, are developing a Web-based repository of information called the Health Care Standards Landscape (HCSL). The repository will provide a comprehensive source of information on health care standards, standards development organizations and organizations that use or implement health care standards. This information will help in the coordination and development of more compatible standards and tools. HCSL currently is a prototype which includes both real and sample data to demonstrate its capabilities. NIST is inviting health care standards developers, users and others to evaluate HCSL. See www.itl.nist.gov/div897/docs/hc_roadmap.html. To submit comments on HCSL or for more information, contact Tom Rhodes at trhodes [at] nist.gov (trhodes[at]nist[dot]gov).
Organizations collaborating with NIST on the HCSL include the Agency for Health Research and Quality, which is providing funding; the American National Standards Institute's Health Informatics Standards Board; and the Consolidated Health Informatics program, a Presidential electronic government initiative.
This project is part of NIST's portfolio of health care IT projects and supports NIST's role in providing technical expertise and assistance to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is leading the federal health information technology effort. See www.hhs.gov/healthit. Get more information on NIST's Health Information Technology program.