Hospitals using uncertified health IT software or custom-made electronic health record (EHR) technology now have the chance to get their systems certified for meaningful use. This week, the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) launched EHR Alternative Certification for Hospitals (EACH), a custom EHR certification program.
The EACH program is designed to help hospitals evaluate their existing technology, then get it certified to quality for meaningful use incentives. Participants have access to a “series of self-paced, online learning programs” that will guide them through three phases: preparation, readiness and certification. They also have access to hands-on support from program staff, an online community of other hospitals participating in EACH and an online inventory of self-assessment tools.
The custom EHR certification program is being test-piloted in three hospitals: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston; Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Calif.; and NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. The program is going very well so far, but achieving certification is not easy, said Dr. John Halamka, who is testing EACH at BIDMC. Even with a staff of experienced IT professionals, the medical center faced a great deal of preparation. But “the staff and educational materials of [CCHIT] make a huge difference” in getting prepared, Halamka said.
What about physicians and ambulatory providers who would like to have their self-developed EHR systems certified by CCHIT? The commission expects to launch a similar program for them in the second quarter of 2011.