Newly Formed Standards Charter Organization (SCO) Lays Foundation for National HIT Agenda

May 3, 2009
John Klimek, RPh, NCPDP

Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - March 2009,

The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) is engaging in an exciting endeavor with other prominent standards organizations to work toward more harmonized efforts in healthcare information technology (HIT) standards development. NCPDP is itself a standards development organization (SDO), chartered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and has worked for years to develop guidelines that are now standard practice in pharmacy claim processing and electronic prescribing. The biopharma industry, which has representation within NCPDP, benefits from these standards by having streamlined, consistent reporting of prescriptions and related health information.

With passage of President Obama’s recent stimulus package, which includes nearly $20 billion to build out an HIT infrastructure, the need for coordinating standards-setting throughout many aspects of healthcare data processes becomes more urgent. It was with this thought in mind that NCPDP began strategizing on how to bring diverse HIT SDOs together, an activity that actually began in 2007.

NCPDP efforts came to fruition with the first SDO Summit meeting, held in April 2008. Many organizations and groups were invited by NCPDP to discuss how to create interoperability among such diverse standards. The organizations developed a charter with a clear mission and goals and with an initial charter membership. Initial member SDOs are NCPDP, Health Level 7 (HL7), Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12, ASTM International and Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC). Initial member SDO-related organization is Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), and initial formal observers include American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Federal Health Architecture (FHA), Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), Social Security Administration (SSA), Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), US Technical Advisory Group (US TAG), and Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).

Collectively, these SDOs have now formed a standards charter organization, or SCO. The SCO has selected a number of target projects, and workgroups have been set up for many of them.

Projects Underway in SCO

There was an understanding that much of the SCO work could collaborate and/or assist the work that was already being done with the HITSP Foundations Committee. An example of one of the projects approved by the SCO was the development of a Common Data Set of Medication Information, specifically in the electronic prescribing environment. HITSP had already started work in this area with the Medication Terminology Harmonization Project. It was thought that the efforts of the executive leadership of the SCO could provide outreach, support, focused guidance to the HITSP effort.

Other initial projects approved by the SCO are Catalog of Functional Gaps and Overlaps which looks at potential standards needed in healthcare, as well as standards that have some functional overlaps. These include the Common Dataset of Allergy Information which will look at common XML tags, and Services Industry Scan. There were other possible projects brought forward to the SCO, but the ones listed here were voted on by the SCO as being necessary groundwork.

We encourage involvement of all healthcare professionals to participate in their respective standards development organization (SDO) or non-SDO organization, so that issues and opportunities are addressed by the SCO. There is more information about the SCO at the website: www.SCOSummit.com.

> John S. Klimek, R.Ph., is Senior Vice President, Industry Information Technology, of NCPDP.