Proposed standards aim to add legal clout to EHRs

ANN ARBOR, MI – Healthcare IT standards organization HL7 has released a functional profile for the Legal Electronic Health Record System.

A 30-day public comment period runs from June 18 – July 18.  Balloting will occur later this year at a date to be announced.

The profile represents a significant boost for the adoption of electronic records, says Don Mon, vice president of practice leadership with the American Health Information Association and co-chair of HL7’s EHR Technical Committee.

“It goes back to the whole issue of having a legal record,” Mon said. When organizations switch to an EHR, they have to define it as a legal record for business purposes,” he said. “The benefit of this profile is that it points out within the EHR what the functionalities should be.”

The legal profile is based on HL7’s EHR System Functional Model standard adopted in February.

“An EHR system must be able to create, maintain, and manage records within a framework of ever-changing jurisdictional rules, regulations, and laws that are intended to assure electronic records are valid, accurate, and trustworthy,” HL7 officials said in a news release. “Because legal validity is at stake for all uses of electronic records as admissible business records, including admissibility as medical records, the Legal EHR is of primary importance to healthcare operations and to interoperability.”

“The Legal EHR System Functional Profile strengthens the EHR System Functional Model standard,” said Michelle Dougherty, director of practice leadership at AHIMA, and co-facilitator in the development of the legal profile. “It identifies the functionality within an EHR System that helps organizations maintain a legally sound health record.”

Mon said the legal profile will benefit both providers and vendors and will help them talk to one another about functionality.

The profile will also help healthcare organizations reduce costs associated with inefficiencies caused by redundant paper and electronic health records, he said. Without a legal definition for electronic records, organizations would be apt to rely on paper records as the legal record – prompting dual record keeping in many cases.

“The financial benefit is to the organization to the extent it will help reduce their paper,” Mon said.



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