Q&A with Alisa Ray, new CEO of CCHIT

By Diana Manos
03:31 PM
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Alisa Ray, the first executive director of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), has been newly named as the organization's CEO.

As executive director since January 2006, Ray's work included providing support to the CCHIT Board of Trustees and heading a three-year $7.5 million federal contract to develop certification criteria and inspection processes. She also oversaw the launch of the CCHIT Certified EHR certification programs and CCHIT's attainment of ONC Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB) status in the Temporary Certification Program, in addition to the NIST Accredited Testing Laboratory (ATL) and ONC Authorized Certification Body (ONC-ACB) status in the Permanent Certification Program.

Healthcare IT News spoke with Ray as she steps into her new role.

Q: I know you've been involved with CCHIT for quite some time. How do you feel about this new appointment?
 
A: I’ve served as CCHIT’s executive director and been responsible for the management of the organization for the past 7 years. I’ll continue in that role, but I am very appreciative that the board of trustees has the confidence in me to carry the CEO title, too, especially as CCHIT looks to expand our programs into new areas.
 
Q: What are some of the things you look forward to doing as CEO?
 
A: This has always been a very dynamic organization, but I am very excited to be working closely with the board on planning our future directions. We have three trustees who just renewed for another term and added two new trustees, so this is a great opportunity for me to be engaged with this very strong board on charting our strategic course.
 
Q: What are some of the top priorities for CCHIT for the coming year?
 
A: First, I believe our stakeholders are looking to us to continue to participate and lead with the ONC 2014 Edition HIT Certification program. We are also in the process of standing up our new HIT Compliance Testing program  in partnership with Healtheway and the New York eHealth Collaborative-sponsored interoperability workgroup. So, the top priorities for execution are around continuing our recognition around clinical EHRs, but also developing a solid set of respected capabilities around interoperability.

Building on those capabilities, we will look for other areas of impact for health IT in the delivery system. For example, we just announced a new project  to work with industry experts to develop an ACO HIT framework to illuminate those opportunities. Finally, I also have a commitment to our talented, dedicated staff to continue to make CCHIT an Interesting, compelling and satisfying place to work.

 
Q: What issues most concern you in the area of healthcare IT certification? 
 
A: I believe that the evolution of HIT certification programs calls for the continued leadership of CCHIT, as a nonprofit, to exercise its long standing public mission to both offer these services and advocate for the stakeholders who rely on them. So, from our customers’ perspective, and I mean both providers and vendors, we need to be mindful that they are facing an environment with a increasingly rapid pace of change in regulation, and new development requirements. 
 
Q: What would it take to ease this situation?
 
A: It’s important that we help them be successful, and that means playing a role in helping them reduce the uncertainty and risk of adopting health IT. We will continue to provide education and information to our customers to help them cope with all these changes. And we will continue to use our experience and expertise to advocate and comment where the opportunity presents.