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USHIK: Harmonizing Health-Care Standards with a Metadata Registry

Judith J. Newton
Ashton Computing & Management Services, LLC

Managing health care information looms as one of the most important issues of the next decades. Scores of organizations have been gathering data on the state of Americans’ health; the effort will accelerate as the baby boomers age and require more and more accurate tracking of their health and treatment status.

The United States Health Information Knowledgebase (USHIK) is one response to the plethora of diverse health care datasets. A metadata registry for health care information, USHIK contains and links to the data elements and information models of Standards Development Organizations (SDO’s) and other health care organizations, to facilitate the ease with which public and private organizations can harmonize information formats of health care standards. USHIK implements a metadata registry methodology based on ISO/IEC 11179, Information technology ­ Metadata Registries, and is sponsored by the Agency for Health Research Quality (AHRQ).

With over twelve thousand data elements and related items, USHIK supports data sharing with cross-system and cross-organization descriptions of common units of health data. Since 2004, USHIK has been used to register selected Consolidated Health Informatics (CHI) standards under sponsorship of the CHI Council. Most recently, the Biosurveillance Technical Committee of the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) utilized USHIK to perform comparisons among selected standards to document and support their decision-making process.

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