I attended the Certifcation Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) Town Call for IT folks today and it was pretty useful. I’m still not convinced that CCHIT Certification will be truly useful for end users for some years, but I do think it is a good start to do something others aren’t doing yet to establish a “minimum standard” that vendors need to meet. Just as an FDA certification of a medical device doesn’t always mean that a device is suitable for all purposes, a CCHIT certification won’t always say whether something is the right product for a particular purpose, just that it meets minimum requirements.
Just keep this in mind: a CCHIT certfication should be on your RFPs as a general requirement but should never be used as the most important selection criteria. Based on the vendors that I’ve seen on the currently “approved” list none of them are “slam dunk” across even the “average” hospital (if there even is such a thing). The CCHIT test cases are still pretty young and since EHRs are rarely purchased as monolithic systems, modular systems selection becomes important but isn’t really specified yet.
What the CCHIT has done very well is to study the environment and come up with a good, standard, requirements document and not everyone has to repeat that effort. But, there’s still a long way to go before they can say things like “closed loop” pharma systems can tie in via a CPOE or true interoperability can take place even if a system has been certified. During the call I was happy to hear that they are starting to look at medication administration requirements, which is one of the primary weaknesses of most EHRs today. But they need lots of help there so if you’re an expert in that area please jump in soon.
The presentation they went through during the call is available here.
There’s another presentation specifically for Physicians later today so our practitioners out there should review this material.
The CCHIT has released materials for public review, which are available here. They seem very interested in public feedback so all of us in health IT should take this opportunity to submit our comments lest we get burdened later on with things we feel are not useful. Remember, if we don’t comment in writing about things we don’t like right now then we don’t have the right to complain later :-). They have a full database available for comments and it’s pretty easy to use. But, they do not accept anonymous comments (which I think is a mistake). Anonymous comments allow people who may have other conflicts to still get their point across so I’m a little disappointed but not necessarily unhappy about it.