September 28, 2016
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Certifying PHRs

By Neil Versel, contributing editor

October 14, 2008 | The first set of certification criteria for personal health records (PHRs) products will focus more on privacy, security, and interoperability with other health-IT and less on specific functionality in an effort to foster innovation in a relatively new market segment, according to the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT).

“We think personal health records are very early [in development],” CCHIT chairman Mark Leavitt said Friday during a public conference call. “We would chill the market by requiring functionality [as part of certification] now,” he explained.

“We’re trying to create a big tent where we can accommodate a lot of different models.” Today, PHRs are available as add-ons to electronic health records (EHRs), as standalone products from employers and health plans compiled mostly from claims data, and as direct-to-consumer offerings, among other formats.

The commission is taking public comments through Oct. 28 on its proposed 2009 criteria for six certification programs (see “CCHIT Certifies EHRs and HIEs”), including the first draft of its initial plan to certify PHRs. The public “town call” is part of the organization’s effort to solicit as much input as possible from various health-IT constituencies, including small physician offices and consumers, Leavitt said.

The proposal calls for patients to have full control over how their own health information is used and who gets to view and send data to each PHR. “Privacy is the No. 1 concern, as voiced by the [CCHIT PHR] advisory task force,” said Jody Pettit, leader of the commission’s strategic work group on PHRs, which developed the draft standards.

The PHR Advisory Task Force is a 17-member panel representing providers, payers, health care purchasers, technology vendors, health-IT organizations, consumer groups, and government. (See “Roundup of National Health-IT Week.”)

Leavitt said the commission will differentiate PHRs from the records used by health professionals by testing the PHR portals of full-fledged EHRs independently from the EHRs themselves.

The commission hopes to begin PHR certification in July 2009. The cost of testing has not been determined. 

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