The HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association, a trade group of more than 40 companies, has unveiled an EHR Developer Code of Conduct.

Vendors adopting the code commit to following specific best practices in the areas of general business practices, patient safety, interoperability and data portability, clinical and billing documentation, privacy and security, patient engagement, and implementation of the code such as educating staff about their obligations.

While the code was written for vendors of Complete EHRs, companies with Modular EHR products, such as a laboratory information system or other niche or supporting products, are encouraged to commit to applicable principles of the code. Vendors committing to the code can display a logo of their commitment on their Web site.

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology, praised development of the code of conduct, saying the EHR Association has come together to make a statement about what they stand for. He especially praised the patient safety commitments, which include notifying customers of identified software issues that could materially affect patient safety and mitigating the issues, and participating with patient safety organizations and other recognized bodies to report, review and analyze safety events.

The code’s language, however, is rather broad and doesn’t necessarily provide clear guidance to vendors. In the patient safety section, for instance, it notes: “Any EHR developer who adopts the code will determine how they will respond to patient safety issues reported by their customers. Solutions could include broad notification to all clients of the potential issue, workflow guidance, features that should not be used, and/or software updates.”

The HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association will not levy a fee for becoming a code of conduct member, but vendors will incur their own costs in making improvements to comply with the code.

Association members who served on the workgroup that developed the code were Mickey McGlynn of Siemens, Leigh Burchell of Allscripts, Justin Barnes of Greenway Medical Technologies, Carl Dvorak of Epic, Lauren Fifield of Practice Fusion, Joseph Geretz of SRS Soft, Rich Landen of QuadraMed, Meg Marshall of Cerner and Mark Segal of GE Healthcare.

More information is available here.

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