Electronic health record certification group moves closer to testing

A group that holds a federal contract to certify electronic health records will begin a pilot test of EHRs for physicians' offices and other ambulatory settings next month.

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology on Monday will hold a teleconference to let EHR vendors know how they can participate in the pilot tests of EHRs for physicians' offices and other outpatient settings. CCHIT will begin accepting applications immediately after the call from those wishing to participate.

The organization recently won a $2.7 million contract from the federal government develop a process for certifying electronic health records and the infrastructure providers will use to exchange the records. CCHIT is looking for a mix of small and large EHR vendors to participate in the tests, according to Sue Reber, a spokesperson for the commission. She predicted that less than 10 vendors would be involved in the initial tests.

CCHIT by the end of November will publish its proposed final criteria that would be used to certify ambulatory health records. Members of various workgroups within CCHIT will judge the pilot tests, which will involve some form of self-reporting from the vendors in addition to the input from the judges, according to Reber. Vendors participating in the pilot tests will be made to sign an agreement that they will not divulge results of the test. When CCHIT begins its official tests of ambulatory EHRs next year, it will rely on judges from within the healthcare IT community, Reber said.

The commission in its Nov. 21 call also plans to assess healthcare IT vendors' readiness to participate in the official certification program, scheduled to start in March 2006.

CCHIT, which began as a project of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the American Health Information Management Association and the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, has been drafting and finalizing EHR certification requirements during the last year.