HIMSS-CCHIT Controversy Continues to Simmer

By John Moore
04:14 PM

As most of you well know, a certain Calvin Jablonski liked to comment here at Chilmark Research taking some pretty hard shots at the EMR certification organization, CCHIT and the close relationship between CCHIT and the vendor organization HIMSS.  Jablonski’s comments raised the ire of the HIMSS executive suite leading to a calling out of the dogs (lawyers) of which we were the humble recipients of their communications.

In our post on the subject, we were miffed that rather than countering Jablonski’s claims, HIMSS, through their lawyers, sought censorship. We did not comply.

What we countered with was what we thought a great idea:

HIMSS, we at Chilmark Research will gladly offer you the opportunity to guest post on Chilmark Research where, in full view of the public/readership you can provide a point-by-point response to Jablonski’s claims.

Seems sensible to us but for some odd reason, HIMSS has yet to respond to this offer.  Is there really something to hide here?  Does the cartoon above (simply substitute CCHIT for FDA) accurately portray what is really going on here?

Honestly, we tend to side with the belief that Jablonski is in some way a very disgruntled individual (former employee, contractor etc.) who has some ax to grind and was intimately familiar with some of the inner workings of both CCHIT and HIMSS.  But disgruntled or not, Jablonski does raise some broader issues that really need far closer review and scrutiny in light of the recently passed Stimulus Bill and the HITECH Act which will pour some $20B+ into the HIT market.

In today’s issue of Healthcare IT News, Neil Versel does a very good job of reporting on the controversy surrounding the Jablonski post and interviews others in the industry, including yours truly, on what many perceive as a strong potential for conflict of interests between an organization that is charged with certifying EMRs (CCHIT) and one responsible for promoting EMRs (HIMSS).

Many industry pundits, including John Glaser, CIO of Partners and also a senior member of NeHC (AHIC 2.0) believe that CCHIT will be the one responsible for making sure that all those EHRs that get adopted under HITECH Act, meet the “certified EHR” requirement.  But is CCHIT really in the best position to grant certification?  In one sense yes, as they have been doing just that for the last several years and claim over 160 products are now CCHIT certified.

But given their all too close relationship with the “HIT establishment” (HIMSS and the entrenched EMR vendors), are they really the best organization to oversea certification going forward?  Probably not in their current form.  Rather than contracting out to some third party, ala CCHIT, maybe a better solution would be to just let NIST do it themselves as they are truly neutral, have been given the authority (it’s in the legislation) and if they have sufficient staff, could certainly accomplish this task.

Ideally though, would not it be better to get the legislative body to go back and simply strike “certified” from the language of the HITECT Act?  To do so would leave us with providing incentives to physicians for “the meaningful use of EHR” by still promoting such behaviors as care coordination, quality, and eRx, without the burdensome requirement for “certified” EHR that will almost always be 3-5 years, at best, behind technology advances.

And by the way, just because it is “certified” does not, by any means, equate to interoperable.  One of the biggest fallacies in the market today.

This blog originally appeared at Chilmark Research.

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