Certification Process for EHRs Set to Expand

CCHIT Makes Changes to Prepare for New Government Program

April 01, 2010 03:35 pm Sheri Porter

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, or CCHIT, has announced that it will adjust its current certification programs for electronic health records, or EHRs, as a result of new regulations in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, or ARRA, which was passed in 2009.

The organization said it will separate its CCHIT Certified program, which has been operational since 2006, from its Preliminary ARRA program, which launched in October.

In addition, CCHIT said it would

  • reopen vendor applications and product testing on April 7,
  • update CCHIT's Web site to clarify the status and objectives of both programs, and
  • prepare for a prompt conversion of the Preliminary ARRA program into the permanent federally approved program.

CCHIT has been the sole entity designated by the federal government as a recognized certification body for EHRs since October 2006. But CCHIT Communications Director Sue Reber expects multiple certifying organizations to come onboard in the near future because the ARRA mandates the development of a national EHR certification program.

HHS recently announced a proposed rule
calling for the establishment of a temporary certification program that eventually will be replaced by a permanent program.

According to the certification process outlined by the Bush administration, "we were a recognized certification body, and we continue in that status today," said Reber.
However, she added, the Obama administration will use a different certification process to qualify products under the ARRA.

Reber noted that HHS has not yet released final rules and applications for the new accreditation process, "but as soon as they do, our intent is to apply."

She added that vendors who have CCHIT's Preliminary ARRA certification will be well prepared to qualify for future certification and will be fast-tracked on a priority basis by CCHIT.

Reber said it's important for CCHIT to prepare vendors now so physicians will be able to get their hands on certified EHR products quickly in the future. Physicians who implement an EHR to qualify for government incentives "are on a short timeline," said Reber.

The first physician incentives are scheduled for payout in 2011.