HIMSS, others launch crusade for care record standards

June 4, 2003

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has joined other healthcare organizations to establish a standard for the Continuity of Care Record (CCR). They say this will enable healthcare providers to base future care on relevant and timely

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has joined other healthcare organizations to establish a standard for the Continuity of Care Record (CCR). They say this will enable healthcare providers to base future care on relevant and timely patient information.

The CCR standard will address the regrettable situation in which patient history, allergies, or current medications aren't available and doctors must start from scratch or act blindly.

HIMSS will join the American Society for Testing and Materials International and the Massachusetts Medical Society to promote the standard. The MMS initiated the development

"We consider this the most important standard of our time," said Peter Waegemann, chair of Standards Committee ASTM E31 on Healthcare Informatics, and CEO of Medical Records Institute, an organization that promotes the development and acceptance of electronic healthcare. "It is long overdue."

The goal is a continuous care record that will reduce medical errors and costs and increase the quality of care, he said.

The CCR would be created or updated at the end of every physician encounter, for review by the next provider regardless of what and where the next healthcare setting might be.

The standard is technology-neutral, and no central database housing CCR data is involved. Each provider is responsible for information created during the present encounter, as well as for documenting any treatment plan. This information is then printed out, or transmitted via secure e-mail, to the patient at the time of referral or transfer.

The CCR would include demographic information, allergies, a medication list, and summary of care provided, plus a short care plan with recommendations for the next step in patient care.

While there is no plan to include diagnostic images at this time, that remains an option for the future, according to Waegemann.

"The purpose of this proposal is to create a standard for a record that enables every provider to access the most relevant information of a patient," he said.

Before the ASTM subcommittee E31.28 ballots the standard, several consensus meetings will be held to incorporate input from medical and professional societies and other key stakeholders. The final standard should be confirmed before the end of 2003.