Health Level Seven International (HL7), a global network of health care databases, has formally approved a Physical Activity Implementation Guide adding physical activity as a vital sign and enabling referrals between exercise professionals and health care professionals.
This is a major milestone on the road to establishing exercise professionals as a critical part of the health care team and adding physical activity as a standard vital sign in health care delivery- two fundamental tenets of the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) global health initiative, Exercise is Medicine®.
HL7 facilitates the transfer of clinical and administrative data between health care systems, enabling seamless communication between health care providers, institutions and systems. This is the first step in assessing a patient’s need for physical activity, including a referral to a certified exercise professional. The PAA has also applied to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) to have physical activity assessment included as a part of the US Core Data for Interoperability Standards (version 4). ONC did include it in the draft which has been out for public comment and review by their advisory committees. The committees recommended to keep physical activity in the final version which will be published in July 2023.
The HL7 Physical Activity Implementation Guide provides the mechanisms for patient referral to exercise professionals and outcome-based physical activity and exercise programs. The US Registry of Exercise Professionals (USREPS) is integrated into the referral framework and will be used to positively verify exercise professionals, including ACSM-certified exercise professionals, as qualified and in good-standing. The registry will also serve as the reference for registered exercise professionals who will receive referrals from health care providers.
The framework encourages health care providers to refer patients to exercise programs delivered by qualified exercise professionals. Doing so will improve population health by promoting physical activity and reducing the prevalence of diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, exercise programs are a cost-effective intervention with long-term benefits in reducing health care expenses.
With the formal support of HL7, ACSM and EIM will continue their collaboration with the PAA and CREP to complete the development and implementation of these priorities in the months ahead.
For more information, contact ACSM Vice President of Government Affairs Monte Ward.