The Center for Health IT at the AAFP has developed four guiding principles that direct its activities. These are the same principles in the "principled group purchasing agreements" with several vendors of practice management and electronic health records (EHR) software systems, and other leading health care industry information technology firms. Below are those 'ACID test' principles:
- Affordability: The costs for the acquisition and use of health information technology should be within the budget of small- and medium-sized medical practices.
- Compatibility: Health information technology adoption should not require that clinicians and practices completely and routinely replace current systems when new components are needed. Information systems and their components should increasingly be based on standards that result in "plug and play" compatibility, similar to that found in the video and audio industries. There should be no "vendor lock" resulting from proprietary systems or interfaces.
- Interoperability: Data exchange schema and standards should permit data to be shared between clinician, lab, hospital, pharmacy, and patient regardless of application or application vendor.
- Data stewardship: Clinicians who use health information technology should retain control of the data that are the product of their work, subject to the rights of patients to access their health information and control its release. Physicians should be entitled to choose an independent and unbiased third party to be a steward of the data on their behalf.