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1/20/2011
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CCHIT Launches Alternative EHR Certification

The program helps hospitals with homebrew or legacy electronic health records software meet meaningful use requirements.

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The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) on Tuesday launched an electronic health record (EHR) certification program for hospitals.

Dubbed the EHR Alternative Certification for Hospitals (EACH), the program will evaluate how installed EHR technology at hospitals measures up to the requirements outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to support meaningful use, as well as pursue certification for existing EHR technology not already covered by a vendor certification.

EACH combines online learning, assessment tools, and interaction with peers and experts to help hospitals meet the first hurdle in qualifying for EHR incentive payments. EACH is also an Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB) 2011/2012 certification program for installed hospital EHR technology and has been tested in a pilot program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston; Huntington Hospital, Pasadena, Calif.; and New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City.

According to CCHIT's chair, Karen Bell, the Commission has the expertise to meet the often complex needs of hospitals that have uncertified legacy software, customized commercial products, or have developed proprietary EHR systems. She also said CCHIT intends to expand its EHR certification program to doctors and other healthcare providers.

"CCHIT is in the process of developing a similar program for physicians and other ambulatory providers that have self-developed EHR technology, which will be launched in the second quarter of this year," Bell said in a statement. "These systems must be certified for hospitals and providers to qualify for financial incentives through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and avoid Medicare penalties."

The EACH program, relying on required ONC criteria and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) test procedures and tools, offers: a series of self-paced, online learning programs designed to prepare EACH program applicants for testing and certification; online inventory and self-assessment tools developed to help hospitals evaluate how their installed EHR technology measures up to ONC's criteria and standards; and additional hands-on support provided by CCHIT's EACH program staff and access to an online community of other hospitals participating in the EACH program.

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