CCHIT's Leavitt: Don't wait for final rules to proceed with EHR

The proposed rules for meaningful use of EHRs include a series of standards related to certification of EHR systems, seemingly opening up the certification process to more than just the long-established Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. "There's a one-to-one relationship between the meaningful use objectives and the certification criteria," CCHIT Chairman Dr. Mark Leavitt says in an audio podcast with Hospitals & Health Networks magazine.

It's still unclear, however, both how and when HHS will accredit certifying bodies, so CCHIT is having to be flexible and responsive as conditions develop. "We are operating our certification programs in just as close a correlation as we can to the federal requirements. We are in fact updating them right now so they will correspond precisely with the meaningful use and certification criteria documents that were just released," says Leavitt, who has announced that he will step down as chairman on March 31.

Just because the government is still working through the details doesn't mean hospitals and physician practices should delay their EHR programs, though. "We believe that it's risky for providers to wait until all the federal rules are final," Leavitt says. "If you wait to purchase an EHR until the rules are final and the accreditation process for certifying bodies is complete, I will put my reputation on the line and say that you will not achieve meaningful use in 2011."

For more from Leavitt:
- download this HHN podcast

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