Consensus reached on e-health software standards

National E-Health Transition Authority announces standards agreement

The move towards e-health standards has taken a significant step forward as industry groups join with the National E-health Transition Authority (NEHTA) to develop an approach for the standard assessment of medical software.

The four industry groups — the Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA), the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and the Joint Accreditation Scheme of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) — have been working with NEHTA to define how software will be certified and the principles around compliance and conformance.

It is also hoped the groups will address concerns surrounding roles and processes in the commercial software industry.

According to NEHTA, conformity assessment will be based on existing national and international standards.

“A tiered system, ranging from self assessment through to accredited external assessment, will be introduced to minimise the time and cost of compliance in line with product risk,” NEHTA said in a statement.

Independent accredited agencies, such as NATA and JAS-ANZ, can also act as third-party assessors where appropriate.

E-health standards have long been an issue for the industry and the announcement is seen as a significant step forward.

NEHTA chief executive, Peter Fleming, described the outcome as a milestone in public-private sector collaboration.

“The development and adoption of national specifications, and a supporting standards framework, is critical for improving patient care and healthcare delivery for all Australians,” he said in a statement.

NEHTA has also released a multilingual healthcare terminology database to Australian licence holders.

SNOWED CT-AU provides a standard clinical language that can be recognised by both clinicians and patients in an e-health environment. The Australian release includes additional customised content for the Australian healthcare market.

NEHTA administers SNOMED CT licensing in Australia on behalf of the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation. The Australian version:

  • Is available as a single consolidated product.
  • Is accessible through a single set of download files
  • Includes improved versioning and file-naming rules

The next release will be available in May 2010 from which time it will be updated every six months.

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