At least six groups apply to be authorized EMR certification bodies, ONC says

There should be more than just a little competition in the EMR certification arena, as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology says it has sent out applications for its temporary certification program to 30 different organizations that have requested them this month. As of last week, ONC had received completed applications from at least six entities, national coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal told the federal Health IT Policy Committee, Government Health IT reports.

"We are optimistic that we will have a new landscape in the certification realm in which, instead of having a single certification body, there will be more opportunity, a broader pipeline for certification, hopefully more price competition and shorter waiting times to get certification," Blumenthal reportedly said at a committee meeting.

The incumbent Certification Commission for Health Information Technology says it is one of those that has turned in its application, and CCHIT is moving ahead with new certification programs for behavioral health, for standalone systems and as an optional add-on to standard ambulatory EMR certification or to EMRs used in skilled nursing facilities and home-health environments.

The presence of multiple entities in the temporary phase will help ONC learn which certification processes work best, Blumenthal said. The temporary certification process--through the end of 2011--is intended as a short-term fix so CMS can start its Medicare and Medicaid EMR incentive program as scheduled on Oct. 1, 2010. ONC expects certifying bodies to begin testing EMRs by late summer or early fall, and for products to be certified in the fall.

ONC will issue final rules on a permanent certification plan at an unspecified time this fall, according to Government Health IT.

For more:
- check out this Government Health IT story on multiple certifiers
- see this CCHIT statement about the submission of its application
- read this CCHIT press release about its programs for behavioral health