E-Health Record Certification Program Adds Specialties

Certification Commission for Health IT now tests and certifies oncology and women's health EHR products.
The Certification Commission For Healthcare Information Technology--CCHIT--is expanding its certification programs for e-health record systems.

CCHIT officials unveiled new programs for EHR products catering to the needs of cancer and women's health specialists at the HIMSS health IT conference in Atlanta.

The Oncology and Women's Health EHR certification programs are the CCHIT's latest for products used in medical-specialty practices. Others include cardiovascular medicine, pediatrics, emergency departments, behavioral health, clinical research, dermatology, long-term care, and post acute care.

CCHIT, a 6-year-old nonprofit organization, is the only certification group for health IT products. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's HITECH legislation leaves room for the creation of other such bodies that can assess and attest that health IT products meet ARRA specifications. The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to say what other certification bodies might be created under ARRA.

From 2006 to mid-2009, CCHIT has certified more than 200 EHR products. Applications for 46 more are pending, Dr. Mark Leavitt, CCHIT's chairman, said in an interview with InformationWeek. Of those, 23 are comprehensive EHR packages and the rest are modular software products offering specific functionality, such as quality-of-care reporting and e-prescribing.

All of CCHIT's certification programs conform to the federal government's interim meaningful use criteria.

CCHIT certification programs for specialty health IT products include functionality important to those specialties. For instance, CCHIT-certified dermatology EHRs products must support digital images, so e-records can include photos of patients' skin lesions, Leavitt said.

CCHIT also offers "site certification" for healthcare organizations that have homegrown e-medical record systems. Those programs include Web-based inspections in which a hospital demonstrates to CCHIT observers how its systems meet the group's requirements.

CCHIT provides tools to certify that products are interoperable, as well. It also assists providers in doing analysis to identify what skills they'll need to get homegrown systems certified, said Alisa Ray, CCHIT's executive director.

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