Federal Agency Names First Two EHR Testing, Certification Bodies

Announcement Represents 'Crucial Step' Toward 'Meaningful Use'

September 01, 2010 05:45 pm Sheri Porter

The Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology, or ONC, has announced that two initial companies have been authorized to test and certify electronic health record, or EHR, systems for compliance with the standards and certification criteria that were issued by HHS earlier this year.

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, or CCHIT, and the Drummond Group Inc. are the first two companies to be authorized by the ONC for EHR testing and certification.

According to an Aug. 30 news release from HHS(www.hhs.gov), the announcement is a key step in the federal government's push to get America's physicians on board with integrating EHR technology into their practices.

This first "crucial step" ensures that EHR products will be available to support health care professionals as they work to achieve required "meaningful use" objectives, said David Blumenthal, M.D., HHS' national coordinator for health information technology, in the news release.

"Doctors and hospitals can invest with confidence in these certified systems," he noted. And, "EHR vendors can begin immediately to get their products certified."

Jason Mitchell, M.D., assistant director of the Academy's Center for Health IT, welcomed the news that the first two EHR testing and certification bodies now are in place.

The ONC's announcement is a significant move toward identifying products that will help family physicians meet meaningful use standards and become eligible for bonus payments of as much as $44,000 through Medicare and almost $64,000 through Medicaid, said Mitchell.

After months of speculation, "the ball is really rolling now," he added, noting that the ONC likely will add more certification bodies to its list in coming weeks.

According to an Aug. 30 news release from the Chicago-based CCHIT, the organization will launch its certification program on Sept. 20 during a webcast that will describe for vendors the application and testing process.

CCHIT plans to announce the first group of certified products a few weeks later.

Drummond Group CEO Rik Drummond, said in an Aug. 30 news release(www.drummondgroup.com)
that his company, located in Austin, Texas, "has been working diligently for many months to meet the stringent criteria set forth by ONC to become certified as an ONC-ATCB (authorized testing and certification body)."

"We look forward to beginning testing with the many EHR software companies that have contacted us," he added.