CCHIT sets base for 'meaningful use'

By Diana Manos
12:19 PM

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology has certified 14 electronic health record products that pass muster for meaningful use under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Alisa Ray, CCHIT’s executive director, said the commission has received more than 30 applications for its two 2011 certification programs launched on Oct. 7 – the CCHIT Certified 2011 Comprehensive program and the Preliminary ARRA certification program.

EHR products certified under the comprehensive program are inspected on site for key aspects of successful use, and are rated for physician usability, Ray said.

The program is designed to help providers who are looking for assurance that a product will meet their complex needs as well as support the meaningful use of IT to qualify for the ARRA financial incentives, Ray said.

The Preliminary ARRA 2011 certification tells providers that a healthcare IT product is capable of performing to provide meaningful use. Vendors will be allowed to update their product after the meaningful use final rule is released at the end of December and updated in the spring of 2010, CCHIT officials said.

Last fall, CCHIT Chairman Mark Leavitt, MD, said the goal of the modular certification is to achieve more rapid, widespread adoption and meaningful use under ARRA.

“We are concerned that providers could not achieve meaningful EHR use in 2011 if they wait until spring 2010 – the expected date of final approval of requirements – to begin adopting this technology,” Leavitt said.

Last August, the Health IT Policy Committee, a federal advisory panel, recommended the government establish competing certification bodies.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) Electronic Health Record Association has argued that adding other bodies could lead to market confusion and loss of consistency. “We prefer that there be one single certifying body,” the organization said. “In any event, certification should be based on a common set of certification criteria.”

So far, only the Drummond Group, Inc., an Austin, Texas-based interoperability test lab, has announced it would apply to become a second certification body.

Meanwhile, time is of the essence.

“We believe it will be a challenge for providers who have not yet begun to evaluate products to purchase and implement EHR technology and achieve meaningful use in time for the 2011-2012 incentives,” Ray said.


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