HIT Certification Committee Still In Play - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Electronic Health Records

HIT Certification Committee Still In Play

Critics have complained that the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology is too closely aligned with large EMR vendors.

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, which has been the group providing a seal of approval for electronic medical record products since 2006, will continue to be the certification body for health IT systems at least until December when the U.S. government finalizes its definition of "meaningful use" of e-health products.

After the meaningful use definition is finalized, multiple organizations will be allowed to perform testing and certification of products for meeting the evolving criteria and standards of U.S. and Health and Human Services health IT certification rules. Vendors would need certification from only one certification body.

The continuation of CCHIT as a certification body was among the recommendations endorsed by the HIT Policy Committee certification and adoption workgroup during a meeting on August 14.

The HIT Policy Committee is an advisory board to the Office of Coordinator of National Health IT, which is guiding the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services on filling in the details of the $20 billion federal stimulus HIT legislation signed into law in February.

The non-profit CCHIT organization was founded in 2004 and began certifying products in 2006 during the Bush administration's push for most Americans to have e-health records by 2014.

To date, CCHIT has certified more than 200 e-health products. However, with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 's health IT legislation earlier this year, the future role of CCHIT was uncertain.

According to provisions in ARRA, in order for healthcare providers to be eligible for federal stimulus rewards starting in 2011, they must use "qualified" health IT products in "meaningful" ways. The details of qualified and certified--as well as "meaningful use" are still being hammered out. However, the HIT Policy Committee meeting last week helped clarify some of those ongoing questions, including the role of CCHIT at least in the short term.

Over the last few months, critics of CCHIT have complained to the HIT Policy Committee that CCHIT is too closely aligned with large EMR vendors selling comprehensive, feature-rich products, making it difficult or impossible, as well as expensive, for smaller vendors, open source developers and in-house development teams, who provide modular products with fewer bells and whistles, to get CCHIT certification.

CCHIT announced recently it will offer additional paths of certification for open source and modular products, such as e-prescribing, as well as in-house developed or assembled e-health systems.

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