The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers provide high-level information on the concept and use of standards in health IT. This page will be updated regularly - if you have a question about Standards that you'd like to see included, please submit a request to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A standard is "something established by authority, custom or general consent as a model 'Standard.'" (Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.)
Yes! Standards are typically broken down into three categories:
Standards may be developed by standards development or standards setting organizations, as well as by other groups such as trade unions or associations.
Standards can be found in almost every area of our daily lives, but why do we need them in healthcare information technology? Ideally in healthcare, data exchange schema and standards should permit data to be shared between clinician, lab, hospital, pharmacy and patient, regardless of application vendor, in order to improve healthcare (i.e., for delivery, outcomes and costs).
There are many healthcare IT standards commonly used throughout the industry. The following are a sub-set of the most common standards.
Vocabulary / Terminology Standards - define the specific set of values that apply to a specific data type
Transport Messaging Standards - describe how messages get transported/exchanged between systems
Security Standards - assure that the messages being transported are secure
Content Standards - describe what data elements are included, where they are included in the message, field length, data type, etc. Common examples of content and document standards include:
Reference Standards - have an assigned value by direct comparison with a reference base or model
Specification Standards - explicit set of requirements for item, material, component, system or device
Services Standards - assist in the translation, movement or securing of data
Technical Standards - usually a formal document that established uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices
There are different perceptions of whether something is a "standard" or not. The following are some examples that help to clarify standards and their accompanying implementation guidance.
Are Implementation Guides "standards?"
How is "guidance" different from a "standard?"
Are "operating rules" considered "standards?"
Are Meaningful Use (MU) Health IT requirements considered "standards?"
Are CMS rules that appear in the Federal Register considered "standards?"