New certification programs proposed by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology indicate the organization is taking a different approach to the certification process as it prepares to help electronic health records developers be deemed in compliance with federal regulations.
In addition to the full, comprehensive certification program vendors typically have undergone in the past, other providers that develop EHRs will be able to certify their IT in EHR modules or EHR sites that comply with "meaningful use" requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. HHS' HIT Policy Committee on Tuesday outlined the meaningful use objectives and measures providers must demonstrate in their systems.
The new options open certification to a "broader spectrum" of vendors, said CCHIT Chairman Mark Leavitt during the Web conference. The certification programs provided by CCHIT will help providers ensure their systems comply with the stimulus law requirements. "Every product is going to need to get ARRA 2011-2012 certified," he said.
CCHIT held the first of two "town call" Web conferences on June 16 to explain the certification options to vendors and IT developers. The first conference addressed concerns from the open-source community, which has said in the past that the certifying body was too focused on proprietary electronic health-record software and systems. The second conference, scheduled for June 17, explains more generally the new certifying options.
Fred Trotter, a co-founder of the new Liberty Medical Software Foundation and open-source advocate, said CCHIT had done a good job in developing the new certification pathways. "The new structure is far more compatible with FOSS (free and open-source software) and effectively answered the vast majority of community complaints," he said in an e-mailed statement.
The new EHR module program will cost vendors between $5,000 and $35,000, and developers that go through the EHR site testing will spend between $150 and $300 for certification.
CCHIT is accepting feedback on its draft plans and analyzing the meaningful use measures released by HHS to fill in gaps between its certification criteria and what the federal government has determined must be in EHRs. The organization hopes to launch certification pilots in September, and vendors will have to gear up to be ready to meet ARRA criteria by January 2010, when CCHIT plans to roll out the final certification programs.