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Health IT certification guidelines for EHR vendors

New federal health IT certification programs involve multiple stakeholders and parallel processes that are new to EHR software vendors. The charts in this tip aim to clear the air.

On June 18, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a final rule on establishing two health IT certification programs that will replace a system in which the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, or CCHIT, was the lone health IT certification body.

One of the new programs is temporary in nature, and has been streamlined in light of the deadline for achieving Stage 1 of meaningful use; the other is permanent, and focuses on future stages of meaningful use and health IT implementation.

According to the ONC's certification rule facts at a glance, the temporary program will end once the permanent program is established and the ONC has authorized at least one certification body. It's likely that will take a while. The national coordinator's office estimates that it will take six to nine months to establish the accreditation processes for electronic health record (EHR) software testing laboratories and certification bodies -- not to mention the additional time it will take an organization to earn accreditation, apply to become an authorized certification body and, finally, receive that authorization.

The new health IT certification programs involve multiple stakeholders and parallel processes through which organizations receive accreditation as testing or certification bodies, and EHR vendors submit their systems to those recognized bodies.

The charts that follow -- which are based in large part on information presented during an ONC health IT certification webinar -- identify those stakeholders and illustrate the key steps that make up the temporary and permanent certification programs.

Temporary EHR system certification process
Permanent EHR system certification process

Let us know what you think about the story; email Brian Eastwood, Site Editor.

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