About the Committee
The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics was established by Congress to serve as an advisory body to the Department of Health and Human Services on health data, statistics and national health information policy. It fulfills important review and advisory functions relative to health data and statistical problems of national and international interest, stimulates or conducts studies of such problems and makes proposals for improvement of the Nation’s health statistics and information systems. In 1996, the Committee was restructured to meet expanded responsibilities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Over its 55-year history, the Committee has stimulated a host of improvements in national and international health data and statistics. The Committee has been associated with ground-breaking contributions in such areas as disease classification, health surveys, uniform health data sets and other data standards, data needs for minority and other special populations, mental health statistics, State and community health data needs, and privacy protection for health information.
The 1990’s have witnessed striking changes in health and health care and in health data and information systems. Both the national environment for health information systems and the nature of the information systems issues which the Department is confronting have changed dramatically. The new electronic information environment is raising new privacy issues and magnifying the importance of insuring that the Department’s current policies are appropriate for new technologies.
The 1996 revisions to the NCVHS charter and appointments of new members were designed to refocus the NCVHS to reflect these changes. Of particular concern is the lack of shared standards for health data. Consensus on such standards could dramatically reduce paperwork burdens and increase the analytic potential of health data. In addition, nationally uniform standards for the confidentiality of health information are required to assure the safety of the shared information. The NCVHS was given a broader role on these issues by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 which became P.L. 104-191.
The NCVHS is in a unique position to serve as a national forum for the collaboration of interested parties, with the long-term goal of improving the compatibility of private sector, state, and federal health information systems while assuring the confidentiality of the information collected. In particular, the new charter enables the NCVHS to foster collaboration on voluntary means to facilitate and accelerate the development of consensus across the public and private sectors around these key data standards and privacy issues.
The Committee informs HHS data policy decision-making as well as private sector and State data policy decision-making. Participants bring their expertise, perspectives, and concerns to the Committee, and bring back to their respective industries and organizations the collective recommendations and rationale of the Committee.
The Committee is composed of 18 individuals distinguished in the fields of health statistics, electronic interchange of health care information, privacy and security of electronic information, population-based public health, purchasing or financing health care services, integrated computerized health information systems, health services research, consumer interests in health information, health data standards, epidemiology, and the provision of health services. Sixteen of the members are appointed by the Secretary of HHS for terms of four years each; with about four new members being appointed each year. Early each year, a Federal Register Notice announces the openings to be filled and invites nominations. An ad hoc selection committee is convened to review the letters of nomination and the curriculum vitae of those nominated. A slate of the most highly qualified people is reviewed by the HHS Data Council and recommendations are made to the Secretary for appointment. In the selection process, the Department gives close attention to equitable geographic distribution and to minority and female representation. Appointments are made without discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, HIV status, cultural, religious or socioeconomic status. Two additional members are selected by Congress.
All meetings of the NCVHS are open to the public. A complete calendar of meetings will link to agendas where they are available. Each agenda, in turn, will be linked to the transcripts or minutes of the meeting when they have been completed, and any testimony, statements, or related submissions if made available electronically.