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CCHIT certification programs for electronic health records to reopen

CCHIT remains confident it will become an official certifying body for vendors, ensuring their electronic health record products are compliant with federal meaningful use criteria.

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) is reopening its certification process for...

vendors that want to get a jump on trying to comply with federal mandates for electronic health record (EHR) standards.

Beginning April 7, vendors will be able to submit their products again for testing in two programs -- either the full comprehensive CCHIT certification process or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act certification process, which will focus solely on the requirements established by government mandates, according to Mark Leavitt, the outgoing CCHIT chairman, during a CCHIT certification town hall webcast.

CCHIT had already begun to develop modular EHR testing criteria related to standards proposed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. However, the organization was waiting for the proposed rule governing how certifiers of health IT would be accredited by the ONC before determining how best to move forward with its programs.

Now that the certification proposed rule is public, CCHIT is confident it will be successful in its application to be an accredited organization, Leavitt said. Until that process is made final, however, CCHIT will test and certify products that aiming to comply with meaningful use requirements. Any products certified in this way through the spring and summer will carry a disclaimer that says CCHIT is not yet an accredited certification program. The group will work to ensure that vendors who go through the CCHIT certification process now will not have to repay to undergo full certification again, after the organization has become accredited, he added.

“This is the only way we know to serve our mission and accelerate adoption,” Leavitt said.

CCHIT had been the only officially recognized certifying body, but ONC last year said it would open accreditation to a competitive process. At least one other organization, Drummond Group Inc., says it will apply to become a health IT certification organization under the new federal mandates as well.

The organization is moving forward, although it expects changes to be made in the final standards rule and final meaningful use rule, which will affect the testing and certification of products, Leavitt said. The ONC now is analyzing public comments it has received about the interim final standards rule, while the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is reading through more than 2,000 comments on the proposed meaningful use rule.

This is the only way we know to serve our mission and accelerate adoption.

Mark Leavitt, Chairman, CCHIT

In its letter to the ONC regarding standards, CCHIT expressed concern that certified EHR systems will have to include administrative or billing applications. Most providers’ back-office systems are automated now, and none of them has gone through a certification process, Leavitt said. “I can’t imagine how that’s going to be ramped up.”

The organization also has provided information again to the ONC about the size of EHR vendors. While the federal agency has said it expects that most EHR development is coming from large companies, that analysis is wrong, CCHIT says. In fact, about 75% of vendors with ambulatory EHR systems are small businesses with revenue of less $20 million, Leavitt said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Jean DerGurahian, News Writer.

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