CCHIT poised to begin new certification programs

By Bernie Monegain
11:36 AM

The Certification Commission for healthcare information technology has announced that it will launch new certification programs on Oct. 7.

CCHIT officials announced Tuesday they will offer an updated comprehensive electronic health record certification program, called CCHIT Certified 2011, as well as a modular certification program – called Preliminary ARRA 2011 – that is limited to the standards for qualifying EHR technology under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"There is a high risk that providers would not achieve meaningful use to qualify for the ARRA incentives in 2011 and 2012 if they wait until late 2010 to implement certified EHR systems and technologies," said Mark Leavitt, MD, chairman of the commission. "On our town call Sept. 3, which drew over 700 attendees, we received valuable feedback on our proposed programs and a strong indication of interest from health IT companies and developers in applying for timely certification under these programs."

Leavitt said the commission has followed the recommendations of the health information technology advisory committees to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and believes there is sufficient information to offer  preliminary ARRA certification.

HHS criteria and standards are slated for publication by the end of 2009. Final rules on meaningful use are expected in the spring of 2010.

If that process results in the introduction of new requirements, the commission will offer vendors with preliminary certifications an incremental inspection at no additional fee to bring their certifications into alignment with the final rules.

The commission's certification materials, including criteria, test scripts and certification policies for both programs, will be published  Sept. 24 on the CCHIT Web site. Applications for certification will open online on Oct. 7.

To help HIT companies and developers to make 2011-certified EHR technology available to providers, the commission is offering a workshop in the Chicago area on Oct. 1. The workshop, Get Certified 2011, is designed to orient companies and developers to the new certification process and help them use the new certification program tools effectively.