CCHIT to cease EHR certifications

New direction includes partnership with HIMSS

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology will stop offering ONC testing and certification services. Instead, CCHIT will work toward increased IT interoperability by counseling providers and developers on certified EHR requirements.

Thanks in part to what it says is the recent unpredictability of the federal testing timeline, CCHIT will no longer offer EHR certifications through its role as an Office of the National Coordinator authorized certification body, or via its independently developed certification programs.

"It's apparent to both providers and vendors that the pace of ONC 2014 Edition certification has been slowed by the challenges of more rigorous criteria and testing, and the timing and nature of future federal health IT program requirements remain uncertain," said Alisa Ray, CCHIT executive director, in a press statement. "With these changes, we can provide a greater level of support and counsel to providers and vendors, something we could not undertake as a government authorized certification body."

[See also: Q&A with Alisa Ray, new CEO of CCHIT.]

She added that, "returning to our independent work, we can convene thought leaders and advisory groups to provide policy and governance recommendations, and guidance to the healthcare community here and internationally."

CCHIT will continue to operate The Source, its subscription-based ONC testing and certification preparation service, officials say. At the completion of this transition, a new menu of individualized services focused understanding ONC certification criteria and test methods, interoperability and clinical quality measures and meaningful use reporting will be added to help EHR developers.

The group will also develop new programs involving the participation of HIT thought leaders and multi-stakeholder advisory groups – including an alliance with HIMSS that will make use of its understanding of provider and vendor needs, domestically and internationally, to enhance CCHIT's new programs.

"Both HIMSS and CCHIT share the common and long-term goal of improving health with information technology," said HIMSS Executive Vice President Carla Smith in a statement. "This alliance allows our organizations to combine our considerable knowledge and experience to better serve our stakeholders as we work together to further positive patient outcomes."

[See also: CCHIT named ONC-authorized certification body under permanent program.]

In the meantime, CCHIT has recommended to its customers that they accept an offer from Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based ICSA Labs, a Verizon-affiliated ONC-ACB, to maintain their certification or apply for new testing services. CCHIT chose ICSA Labs because of the expertise of its staff and its processes, officials say, and will assist its customers as services are transferred.

"This move works at many levels in the best interest of companies that are developing EHRs and those in the medical community who use EHRs," said Ray. "Each of us – CCHIT, HIMSS and ICSA Labs – will be concentrating on what we know and do best."

Along with this new strategic direction, CCHIT has restructured its board of trustees to include the following health IT leaders:

  • Dana Alexander, RN
    VP Integrated Care Delivery & Chief Nursing, Caradigm
  • Lori Evans Bernstein
    President, GSI Health
  • Paul Kleeberg, MD
    CMIO, Stratis Health
  • Grace Terrell, MD
    President & CEO, Cornerstone
  • Andrew M. Wiesenthal, MD
    Director, Deloitte Consulting
  • Hal Wolf
    ADVI
  • Michael H. Zaroukian, MD
    Vice President & Chief Medical Information Officer, Sparrow Health System

The work of CCHIT's board of Commissioners has concluded and will be replaced by multi-stakeholder advisory groups, which will be named later.