CCHIT Program To Help Hospitals Pass EHR Certification

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology certification program targets hospitals with legacy, customized or self-developed Electronic Health Record systems.

Anthony Guerra, Contributor

December 2, 2010

3 Min Read

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) is launching a new EHR certification program for hospitals that have uncertified legacy software, customized commercial products or self-developed EHR systems. "The EHR Alternative Certification for Hospitals," or EACH program, is an ONC-ATCB 2011/2012 certification for installed hospital EHR technology.

The program contains three phases, all of which are designed to give applicants the greatest possible chance of passing the actual test, according to CCHIT. In fact, applicants are only allowed to undergo the final inspection if they have gone through the first two phases of the program.

In the first phase, called "Preparation," applicants attend an online program orientation, are introduced to the EACH online community of hospitals, and form the team that will help carry out their self assessment.

"We take you through the requirements of certification and guide you as to whether you need to think about self certification," said Patricia Becker, EACH product manager and CCHIT Commissioner. "After that, you have capability of participating in online communities to exchange information. These communities will also be staffed by CCHIT to answer questions."

In the second phase, "Readiness," the online self-assessment is carried out. In that phase, the applicant is provided with a "learning program" to help them perform a gap analysis. This phase also offers a toolkit that includes test scripts and an interoperability guide. The Readiness phase helps ensure that "when you come for certification, you are well prepared to pass the actual test," said Becker. In fact, "We ask you to test each module at least twice so you are ready for inspection."

The third phase of the program is when the actual inspection takes place, which is web-based. Applicants are tested against ONC criteria using NIST-established procedures. Same-day retests are also offered. If an applicant passes, the results are reported to ONC to be listed on the CHPL website, along with being posted on CCHIT's site. CCHIT further tries to ensure applicants pass the test by monitoring the amount of time they spend in the first two phases. If that level is substantially below what is determined to be a sufficient effort, the applicant will be notified.

In creating the program, CCHIT worked with hospitals to receive feedback. EACH will be piloted at New York University Hospital, Edward Hospital and Health Services (Illinois), and Care Group in Boston. The program will officially launch on Jan. 10 when the program orientation becomes available, with wide availability and inspection capacity the following week.

Pricing for the program breaks down as follows: the Preparation phase costs $99, with Readiness priced at $3,500. If an applicant moves on to the Certification portion, the readiness fee will be applied as a credit to that bill. Complete EHR Certification runs $32,550. Module testing starts with a base fee of $7,000 for certification against ONC's mandatory security criteria, with each module adding an additional fee on top of that. For example, the "calculate and submit clinical quality measures" module costs $2,000 which, added to the base fee, would result in a $9,000 bill.

To help defray the testing costs for critical access hospitals, CCHIT is offering some "limited" scholarships. More information will be provided when the application process opens.

Becker said CCHIT will not charge for same-day retests. However, "if you completely flunk the whole thing and we have to reconvene, we would charge some additional fees, but that happens very, very rarely. We think you'll have good outcomes with our safeguards -- including the same-day retest -- to be able to get the results you want."

Starting in the second quarter of 2011, CCHIT said it will expand the program to include ambulatory practices.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at [email protected].

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