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CCHIT Certification Adapts to Meaningful Use

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) recently announced that both of its EHR technology certification programs will be updated to conform to the Interim Final Rule (IFR) recently released by Health and Human Services (HHS) and that applications will open on the rule’s effective date of February 12, 2010.

The IFR, titled “Health Information Technology: Initial Set of Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria for Electronic Health Record Technology,” was published in the Federal Register on January 13, along with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking describing the meaningful use objectives and incentive payment schedules for adoption of certified EHRs.

“Our aim is to ensure that hospitals and doctors have enough time to purchase and implement certified EHRs and achieve meaningful use in time to qualify for HHS financial incentives in 2011 and 2012,” says Alisa Ray, the commission’s executive director. “With eligibility for hospitals opening in October 2010, there is an urgent need for certification programs to be in place.”

Ray says the IFR contained “no big surprises” for the CCHIT, allowing the organization to quickly update both its comprehensive and modular certification programs to conform to the rules. She also indicates that the approximately two dozen vendors who had already achieved certification under the CCHIT’s latest programs will be offered incremental testing at no fee to close any gaps and that a gap analysis to assist that effort was being posted at http://www.cchit.org/get_certified.  For all other EHR vendors, the updated criteria and scripts will be published soon and applications will be accepted beginning February 12.

The commission plans a town call, a free Web-based teleconference open to all, on January 26, to discuss the changes in its programs and answer questions. Information about the call is available at http://www.cchit.org/about/towncalls/hhs-ifr-hit-gap-analysis.

Site Certification Program Development Beginning
The CCHIT staff, in consultation with professional associations, is beginning the development of its Site certification program and expects to launch it this summer after HHS announces its final rules on meaningful use. Site certification is designed to accommodate hospitals and healthcare providers who have EHR technology already implemented. The program will be designed to inspect and certify any mix of EHR technologies in place, whether commercial, open source, or self-developed. More information will be available on this program soon.

Source: Certification Commission for Health Information Technology