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CMS, AHRQ Announce EHR Format for Children

February 7, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are proposing changes to the format ofchildren’s electronic health records (EHRs), the two agencies jointly announced.

The proposed recommendations of the EHR format include adding data elements such as child-specific vaccines and procedures. The agencies also suggested changing the functionality as to enable EHR developers to broaden their products to include modules tailored to children's health. According to the AHRQ and CMS, existing EHR systems are not tailored to capture or process health information about children.

"Healthcare for children is a calling that carries special challenges," stated outgoing AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. "This new children's EHR format will help software developers meet the needs of healthcare providers for children by combining best practices in clinical care, information technology and the contributions of health care providers who treat children every day."

The format, which was authorized by the 2009 Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) and developed by AHRQ and CMS, is a kind of blueprint for developers. It aims to guide developers to understand the types of information that should be included in EHRs for children. According to AHRQ, its designed for EHR developers and providers who wish to augment existing systems with additional features or to build new systems for the care of children.

The format focuses on areas such as prenatal and newborn screening tests, immunizations, growth data, information for children with special health care needs and child abuse reporting. It also provides guidance to developers on the interoperable exchange of data, including data collected in school-based, primary and inpatient care settings.

"We have been pleased to partner with AHRQ on this first and much needed step to move EHR products to better capture the healthcare needs of children and adolescents," stated Cindy Mann, CMS deputy administrator and director of CMS's Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. "The EHR format provides a foundation upon which developers can build EHRs that, by differentiating between children and adults, ultimately will lead to better quality information about children's health."

The agencies used the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians as expert sources in helping develop the format. Also, it’s built on specifications from sources that include the Health Level Seven International (HL7) EHR-S Functional Model, the HL7 Child Health Work Group's Child Health Functional Profile, and the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration's Health IT for Children Toolbox.

Here is more information on the children's EHR format.

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