August 8, 2003

Nursing Summit conferences advance health care data standards

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Nursing Summit conferences advance health care data standards

Nursing leaders and experts in developing standards from five continents gathered at Vanderbilt last week to continue their work to develop universal standards for health care data, in response to an initiative by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.

Thompson called health care leaders to establish a National Health Information Infrastructure earlier this summer.

Judy Ozbolt, Ph.D., Independence Foundation Professor of Nursing and professor of Biomedical Informatics, has been organizing annual nursing terminology summit conferences at Vanderbilt since 1999. She said new health care data standards in nursing play a key role in that infrastructure.

“The standards will increase patient safety, promote quality improvement, facilitate clinical research based on patient care records, and make it easier to get reimbursement from Medicare, TennCare, and private insurers,” said Ozbolt.

Ozbolt said the health care data standards affect medicine, nursing, ancillary services, and administration, and each professional discipline must set the standards for the information its practitioners collect and record in providing patient care.

In the past, Ozbolt said several sets of terms were proposed as possible standards for recording nursing information, but they were incompatible and overlapping.

“Even worse, there was no way to integrate these terms with the information physicians and others use in caring for patients, and there was next to no nursing participation in the voluntary organizations that were developing standards for health care information,” Ozbolt said.

Due to the organization of the yearly summit conferences and the new standards the group has developed, nurses now serve leadership roles in the major standards organizations. Their work has contributed substantially to the final draft standard model for nursing terminology accepted at the International Standards Organization (ISO).