EHR certification? What certification?

By Bernie Monegain
09:38 AM

A new poll of 850 healthcare providers across the country shows most providers view certification of their electronic health record systems as critical, yet they remained uncertain of the requirements to qualify for government incentives.

The "2010 U.S. Ambulatory Electronic Health Records Certification Study" from research and consulting firm CapSite aims to assess the industry views on ambulatory EHR certification.

"The study provides clear evidence that there is considerable confusion in the market in terms of the certification requirements for Ambulatory EHRs," says Brendan FitzGerald, research director for CapSite. "Although the ONC has not designated Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ATCB) at this time, 69 percent of respondents were not aware there will be federally accredited alternatives to CCHIT (Certification Commission for Health IT) for ambulatory EHR certification."

Study highlights:

  • 66 percent of study participants indicated that they consider certification to be a very important element of their ambulatory EHR evaluation process.
  • 52 percent of respondents believe that CCHIT Certification is required to receive stimulus funds for their ambulatory EHR solution purchase.

The HITECH Act of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and more specifically the stimulus funding tied to meaningful use of electronic health records has created a significant industry focus on EHR certification, the report notes.

The study objective was to assess the current state of the healthcare IT market as it relates to ambulatory EHR certification, with a specific focus on providers' knowledge of certification requirements, the relative importance of certification, as well as providers' awareness of certifying entities.

The study also indicates mixed opinion regarding the yet to be named ONC-ATCBs for ambulatory EHR certification as 33 percent of study respondents are less concerned about which entity certifies their ambulatory EHR solution than they are about receiving stimulus funds.

"The recent release of the final rule on meaningful use of an electronic health record by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department represents an important step in addressing the market confusion related to certification requirements for ambulatory EHRs," FitzGerald concludes. "Our study indicates that providers would greatly benefit from additional education and guidance to fully understand certification expectations."

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