Guest Article: Status of CCHIT and certification for ARRA

July 15, 2009

Many people have been e-mailing me asking about the status of CCHIT and ARRA certification. Jim Tate, President of EMR Advocate, is an experienced project manager in the implementation of both EHR and Practice Management systems and consults with EHR vendors regarding interface and functional specifications, marketing strategy, documentation and CCHIT certification. Many of us have had to put our plans on hold because of the pending government regulations so I asked him to provide us a quick summary of what direction he thinks the current certification winds are blowing. Here’s what Jim had to say.

Another month has passed and are we any closer to a definition of MU (meaningful use) or “certified technology”? Actually, we are. In the past month the struggle to define MU for the upcoming ARRA incentive periods has intensified.

CCHIT has weighed in cautioning that too high a bar could threaten the entire HITECH adoption process. “CCHIT recommends that meaningful use measures be either simplified for 2011, or postponed until 2013.” The full comments are available online. The current uncertainly around MU and what will be “certified technology” is playing havoc with the development, marketing and sales goals and timelines of EHR companies. CCHIT addressed this issue in a June 20th email to currently certified vendors : “Many vendors have asked whether they should be developing to our 09 criteria and test scripts, or waiting for our ARRA 2011-2012 version. Just to be clear, there will not be an 09 certification program. Our next launch — this Fall — will be for a 2011-2012 ARRA certification. The correlation between our 09 criteria and the 2011-2012 ARRA criteria will depend on decisions yet to be made by ONC and the two Advisory Committees. We know they are aware of the harmful effect of uncertainties on adoption rates and health IT momentum, and we believe they are moving as fast as they can.”

By the end of August many of the current unknowns should be resolved. Until then, how should one keep up with the constantly evolving process? I recommend keeping an eye on CMS’s Fact Sheets and HIT Information. CCHIT has redesigned their website and relevant information is much easier to find. I also like the way ARRA/HITECH information is constantly updated at HITECH Answers.

  • http://www.ctihealth.com Jeffrey E. Epstein, MD

    I just read an interview with David Blumenthal, MD in InternalMedicineNews.com. He was asked about “meaningful use” and this is what he said.

    “I don’t want to get into specifics, but I will tell you that I think the consensus is clear around one thing, and that is that we should concentrate on performance and usability rather than on technical specifications. We should be constantly linking our definition of meaningful use to clinically meaningful capabilities and performance attributes.”

    I hope he means what he says and I hope they truly concentrate on usability, performance and clinical utility.

  • http://www.myhealthtechblog.com Deborah Leyva

    I personally believe that one of the purposes for certification of electronic health records is to provide assurance to providers, facilities, patients and other interested parties that the software they have purchased and/or implemented is a product that will facilitate MEANINGFUL USE. In other words, it can be regarded as a level of QUALITY in the software product.

    I am impressed with the “high caliber” and quality of selected thought leaders and volunteers in CCHIT’s organization. The group is representative of individuals and organizations that will be impacted by the use of electronic health records in the future. That said, most of them will indeed be impacted by future decisions regarding meaningful use criteria.

    It is commendable that CCHIT selected a diverse group to address certification processes for meaningful use going forward.

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