Prior to the approval of the Continuity of Care Document (CCD) as an ANSI Standard in 2007, electronic clinical document exchange could utilize one of two formats: HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) or ASTM Continuity of Care Record (CCR). In an effort to combine the two closely related formats, the Continuity of Care Document was created.
CCD harmonizes the two separate standards by using CCR within the broader context of CDA. It shares summary information about the patient in an easy-to-read format, using CCD templates to constrain the data. The information can be read by the human eye or processed by a machine (such as an EMR system), and can be sent electronically or manually carried by the patient.
CCD is widely compatible with new and existing technology/standards because it is based on HL7 CDA – a RIM-based specification. It can work with existing applications, browsers, EMRs and even legacy systems. Because of its small fixed XML tag set, CCD can be rendered as HTML or PDF, and requires no specialized communication efforts or changes to existing processes.
For patients, this means less loss of meaning and misinterpretation of data by providers. For physicians, this means easier access to vital health information and better patient care.
Moving into the future
New CCHIT certification criteria require all ambulatory and inpatient EHRs to be CCD compatible, making CCD the preferred standard for clinical document exchange as we move forward into the future. The new criteria is also instrumental in encouraging the use of an electronic health record within the healthcare community.
Those implementing CCD will be readily compatible with new technology, while simultaneously opening the doors to greater compatibility and better care for patients.