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CCHIT presses forward with certification programs

The Certification Commission for Healthcare IT may soon lose its status as the sole health IT certifying body, but at HIMSS10 it nonetheless revealed new certification programs.

ATLANTA -- In the absence of an official accrediting process for health information technology certifying bodies, the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) is pressing forward with new testing criteria.

Presenting during the HIMSS10 annual conference, Mark Leavitt, CCHIT chairman, explained the latest CCHIT comprehensive and modular testing programs for site testing and electronic health records. He also outlined the various federal health IT adoption policies. Mandates in the interim final rule for initial standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria for EHR went into effect last month, while stakeholders have until March 15 to submit comments on the proposed rule for meaningful use criteria.

The last policy the industry is waiting for will explain how organizations that want to certify health IT products will have to be accredited by the government. The mandates in the proposed meaningful use rule say providers must implement certified technology to be in compliance. There is no word on when that policy -- expected to be published initially as a proposed or initial final rule -- will be released.

If you have not purchased [an EHR system] yet, but still have a good IT shop, you can still make it [to the federal incentive].

Mark Leavitt, chairman, CCHIT

Leavitt believes the policy is being held up in an internal review process but probably will be published in the second quarter of this year, he said during his presentation at the conference, sponsored by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. “The first thing that’s needed is the last to come out,” he said.

CCHIT has been positioning itself to stay in the certification game. CCHIT certification was the only officially recognized certifying body for technology products until last year, when the government decided it wanted to open the accrediting process to more competition. CCHIT and other groups that have expressed interest in establishing a test program, such as the Drummond Group Inc., in Austin, Texas, will have to apply through the accreditation process, once that is final.

Leavitt recommended that, despite the lack of final rules, providers not wait but purchase and implement EHR technology now, to take advantage of full incentive payments. “If you have not purchased one yet, but still have a good IT shop, you can still make it,” he said.

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

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