CCHIT opens ARRA certification

Although HHS has yet to publish its criteria for "meaningful use" of EHRs, the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is pushing forward with a new certification program that opened Wednesday.

"We don't want to lose time," Dr. Mark Leavitt, CCHIT chairman, told AHIMA Conference attendees Monday in Grapevine, Texas. To date, CCHIT is the only body recognized by the federal government to certify EHRs to qualify for ARRA funding. "We're skating toward where the puck is going to be rather than waiting for it to move," Leavitt said.

CCHIT now offers two types of EHR certification. Both would likely expire on Dec. 31, 2012: 

* CCHIT Certified 2011--Maximum assurance that it has comprehensive, integrated EHR capabilities and that it meets or exceeds ARRA standards. This certification is tailored to specific uses, such as ambulatory clinics, child health, e-prescribing, inpatient settings and emergency departments.

* Preliminary ARRA 2011 Certification--Maximum flexibility in meeting ARRA standards. This option is designed for vendors, developers and providers to ensure they will meet the 2011 certification requirements when HHS finalizes the rules next spring. This "chocolate and vanilla" certification is designed for vendors to give them the "thumbs up on the ARRA side," Leavitt said.

The commission will add a third, site-specific program for healthcare providers around June 2010, including for long-term care, post-acute care, behavioral health and other settings, he said.