CCHIT Rolls Out Preliminary E-Health Certification
New certification from the Certification Commission for Health IT comes as the industry waits for government's final "meaningful use" definition.
The federal government won't have its definition of "meaningful use" for health IT products finalized until the end of the year. But in the meantime, the organization that has been certifying e-medical record systems unveiled new programs Tuesday to qualify products for what's known so far about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's criteria for health IT.
The Certification Commission for Health IT (CCHIT) in October will begin providing to e-health vendors preliminary certification and inspection services to evaluate how products match up against the minimum "meaningful use" standards developed so far by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) under ARRA.
CCHIT, an independent non-profit organization that's been certifying e-health record products since 2006, is still the only industry group that is certifying health IT products for interoperability and a host of other functionality with recognition from HHS.
But with the $20 billion health IT stimulus provisions of the ARRA, HHS has indicated that other certification bodies will likely be recognized, especially after the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for HIT finalizes its "meaningful use" criteria and standards at the end of 2009.
In order for healthcare providers to be eligible for ARRA financial incentives starting in 2001, they need to use qualified health IT products in "meaningful" ways.
Under CCHIT's certification programs, health IT vendors can continue to seek the more comprehensive CCHIT certification that the organization has offered for the last few years. However, the new CCHIT "Preliminary ARRA 2011" program allows for "modular" certification in which CCHIT inspects technology only against the minimum standards indicated so far by HHS for ARRA "meaningful use" eligibility.
The CCHIT "Preliminary ARRA 2011" program splits up what is known so far about HHS' meaningful use requirements into 28 different criteria, said a CCHIT spokesman. Vendors seeking certification will be allowed to demonstrate how their technology is capable of meeting those criteria.
Also, vendors of modular packages, such as e-prescription software or decision support applications, can focus their products to meet certain criteria from the 28-item check list, said the spokesman.
This would allow healthcare providers to combine modular products that together meet all meaningful use requirements, he said.
This preliminary ARRA certification offering from CCHIT aims to help remove some of the uncertainty among healthcare providers to move ahead with e-medical record system implementation while they wait for the final "meaningful use" definition to be published.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).