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Children’s EHR format guides developers, policymakers alike

There’s a new EHR data standard in town. Last week, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a child-specific EHR format that outlines functionality items an EHR should have to meet the particular needs of children.

Authorized by the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) and developed by AHRQ and CMS, the goal of the children’s EHR format is to accommodate the ways pediatric clinical data differs from that of adults – i.e. establish parent, family and guardian relationships, exchanging data with schools when necessary, defining special needs, etc.

The format covers EHR functionality in 21 areas related to the care of children. In total, more than 700 requirements statements are included, denoted in their importance by “shall,” “should” or “may,” which suggest required, recommended, or desirable system behavior, respectively.

In addition to the requirements, the format provides guidance for interoperable data exchange, such as data collected from school-based, primary and inpatient care settings, as well as a guarantee of compatibility with other EHR standards.

AHRQ designed the standard to be used as a blueprint by EHR developers seeking to either build new EHR systems for children or augment existing systems with additional features. Pediatric care providers, policymakers and child health advocates may also find the format a useful tool for understanding the current data requirements necessary to document the care of children in an electronic format.

CHIPRA will pilot the data format with grants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. CMS said that it will likely integrate the format into future EHR meaningful use certification standards.

Both a full and abridged version of the children’s EHR format is available online.

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