CHICAGO - March 23, 2010 - The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT®) announced at a Town Call teleconference last week that it will adjust its certification programs for electronic health records (EHR) and reopen applications and testing on April 7. With this re-launch, the organization will complete a separation of its CCHIT Certified® program, offered since 2006 and updated annually, from its Preliminary ARRA program, launched in October 2009 in anticipation of the need for a modular testing and certification service that would become accredited by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"It was helpful to have the Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Certification released earlier this month, but a lot more is needed before government-accredited EHR certification can take place: finalization of meaningful use requirements, standards, certification criteria, testing procedures, and, of course, the accreditation of testing and certifying bodies," said Mark Leavitt, M.D., Ph.D. CCHIT's chair. "In the meantime, there is a lot of confusion among providers that is interfering with EHR adoption progress, so we are taking four steps to bring more clarity to the situation."
The Commission is taking the following steps:
- Making the CCHIT Certified® program fully independent from the Preliminary ARRA program
- Reopening applications and testing under both programs on April 7
- Updating their Web site to offer clarity about the objectives and status of both programs, especially regarding their relationship to the still-awaited government accreditation process
- Preparing for a prompt conversion of the Preliminary ARRA program into an ONC-accredited ARRA testing and certification program
Starting April 7, the Commission will once more accept applications, continue its testing and issue two types of EHR certifications. A product may receive one or both of these certifications:
- CCHIT Certified®, an independently developed certification that includes a rigorous inspection of an EHR's integrated functionality, interoperability and security. Products that are CCHIT Certified® are tested against criteria developed by the Commission's broadly representative, expert work groups. This program is intended to serve health care providers looking for maximal assurance that a product will meet their complex needs. As part of this independent evaluation, successful use is verified at live sites and product usability is rated.
- Preliminary ARRA, a certification program that tests Complete EHRs or EHR Modules against the Meaningful Use Stage 1 certification criteria in the Interim Final Rule (IFR) issued by HHS/ONC in January. The Preliminary ARRA program is designed to demonstrate that a vendor's product is extremely well prepared to be certified once ONC-accredited testing and certification becomes available, but the final criteria and test procedures are not yet available, nor has CCHIT been accredited yet by ONC. When those events occur, CCHIT will replace the Preliminary ARRA program with a final, ONC-accredited ARRA certification program. Vendors with Preliminary ARRA certification can undergo retesting by CCHIT at no additional cost to receive a fully-accredited certification once it is available.
Program materials, including revised program policies, applications, criteria, test scripts and other guidance will be available at http://www.cchit.org/get_certified beginning on April 7.
"Although as yet there is no government program in place to accredit organizations such as CCHIT to certify EHRs, we feel it is important to move forward with our mission to encourage the adoption of health information technology to meet the needs of physicians and other health care providers, and of patients," said Alisa Ray, executive director, CCHIT. "We intend to apply to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology for recognition as a certifying body for EHRs as soon as the government finalizes its requirements for accrediting certification programs."
The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT®) is an independent, 501(c)3
nonprofit organization with the public mission of accelerating the adoption of robust, interoperable health information technology. The Commission has been certifying electronic health record technology since 2006. More information on CCHIT, CCHIT Certified® products and certified Preliminary ARRA electronic health record technology is available at http://cchit.org and http://ehrdecisions.com.
"CCHIT®" and "CCHIT Certified®" are registered trademarks of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.