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Commentary

Commission Tweaking Certification Programs To Meet New Regs

The Certification Commission for Health IT said it will be updating its e-health record certification programs to conform to the near-final meaningful use criteria released by the U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services in late December.
The Certification Commission for Health IT said it will be updating its e-health record certification programs to conform to the near-final meaningful use criteria released by the U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services in late December.CCHIT is the non-profit, independent organization that's been certifying e-health record products since 1996.

In order for healthcare provider to be eligible for HITECH stimulus rewards for the meaningful use of health IT products beginning in 2011, they need to use "qualified" health IT products.

With the federal government's new meaningful use criteria near-final, CCHIT has prepared a gap analysis to "call out the changes required in testing from our current CCHIT programs," said CCHIT marketing director Sue Reber in an email interview with InformationWeek.

The CCHIT gap analyses are available here.

"There weren't a lot of surprises, and the changes are not difficult for us to incorporate almost immediately into our current testing process and certification program structure," she said. "There were no meaningful use requirements which were not addressed in some fashion in the current CCHIT criteria," Reber said. "However some dropped out of the federal criteria entirely, such as progress notes, advance directives and patient education. We will continue to require these criteria in our Comprehensive program to offer providers more assurance that those CCHIT Certified products will meet their needs and those of their patients. But we will remove those requirements from the limited, Modular program, which is only meant to test compliance with the federal minimums," she said.

"Those vendors who have already certified products in our preliminary 2011 programs can bring those products back for incremental retesting at no charge," she said.

Meanwhile, the federal government has also been evaluating allowing other organizations besides CCHIT to qualify eligible e-health products under the meaningful use incentive programs.

"We'll have to see what the regulation actually is and see where CCHIT fits into the new situation the new regulation will create," said Dr. David Blumenthal, the Obama administration's national coordinator for health IT in an interview this week with InformationWeek.

"CCHIT is clearly going to have the option to sit along with other organizations, to participate in certification going forward, but I can't tell you what role exactly it will play."

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).