Healthcare Standardization

As featured on the TAWPI Blog

Standardization of industry practices is critical to the strength of the healthcare market. Lee Barrett, executive director of the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) explains:

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve to meet regulations and requirements outlined in ARRA, HITECH and HIPAA, more than ever, there’s need for standardization of industry practices and optimization of stakeholder cooperation. Coupled with the complex issues surrounding interoperability, privacy, security and access is the fact that healthcare networks, financial service firms, payer networks, e-Prescribing and other solution providers and vendors need to overtly demonstrate their readiness, competence and capability to address these issues and comply with a complex web of regulations.

When any industry goes through the process of defining the standards to which industry participants should adhere, that industry becomes stronger in its own operations and earns greater respect from affiliated and external stakeholders. This is precisely the case with the electronic healthcare transaction industry.

EHNAC, or the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission, is focused on establishing, developing, updating and filtering the criteria that define whether organizations operating in the healthcare electronic transaction industry receive accreditation or not. Through a dialogic process, that builds on stakeholder recommendations, insights and comments, EHNAC develops and promotes criteria for best practices, which focus on simplifying administrative processes, maintaining open competition and enhancing operational integrity.

In January, EHNAC announced the finalization and adoption of program criteria for 2010. This announcement concluded a 60-day public comment period for the following programs:

  1. ASPAP-EHR – Application Service Provider Accreditation Program for Electronic Health Records
  2. ePAP – e-Prescribing Accreditation Program
  3. FSAP EHN – Financial Services Accreditation Program for Electronic Health Networks
  4. FSAP Lockbox – Financial Services Accreditation Program for Lockbox Services
  5. HNAP EHN – Healthcare Network Accreditation Program for Electronic Health Networks
  6. HNAP Medical Biller – Healthcare Network Accreditation Program for Medical Billers
  7. HNAP TPA – Healthcare Network Accreditation Program for TPAs
  8. HNAP-70 – Healthcare Network Accreditation Plus Select SAS 70© Criteria Program
  9. OSAP – Outsourced Services Accreditation Program

In addition, the commission developed draft criteria for Health Information Exchange (HIE) entities. In February, this draft criteria was released for 60-day public comment and review and will be finalized during the second quarter 2010.

The issues addressed through the criteria review and approval process become increasingly complex, as the industry responds to specific provisions in the federal acts. Criteria for accreditation programs today address health data processing response times and security; privacy and confidentiality for financial service providers; and e-Prescribing timeliness and security. As regulatory guidelines become more complex, industry participants are called on to make sure their operations are simplified, secure and compliant.

Accreditation also simplifies the process of discerning between those who are adhering to industry standards, and those who are not.