The National Committee for Quality Assurance is developing a certification process for electronic health-records systems compatible with a popular diabetes management program called the Diabetes Physician Recognition Program.
Almost 2,500 doctors participate in the diabetes program, developed by the NCQA and the American Diabetes Association to spotlight practitioners who meet certain thresholds for following recommended treatment guidelines.
"It seems like a natural fit," says Allison Klein, manager of information products at the NCQA. "We're looking, in this first phase, to work with a few pilot vendors to develop standards."
Klein says there is no timetable set to develop the program, but there is talk of also creating a certification process that corresponds to the Heart-Stroke Physician Recognition Program the NCQA developed with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.
"The question you hear a lot of medical groups asking about EHRs is 'Which one should we select?' " says Bob Kaplan, the NCQA's vice president of information technology and chief information officer, in a news release. "By certifying those EHR systems that provide doctors with good data and that help qualify them for recognition, it takes some of the guesswork out of the decision."
NCQA spokesman Jeff Van Ness says vendors will be charged a fee to have their systems reviewed for certification, but the pricing structure is still under development.
A program to develop EHR standards was launched last July by a broad coalition of healthcare information-technology stakeholders that came together to form the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, or CCHIT.
The leader of that group says he doesn't see the NCQA as a competing interest and notes the different goals of both organizations.
"What we're trying to do is accelerate adoption of EHRs and what they're trying to do is improve management of diabetes," says Mark Leavitt, M.D., chairman of CCHIT and medical director of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.