Is CCHIT dead?

Chris Thorman over at Software Advice had a nice CCHIT-related posting a couple of days ago: EMR Ratings: How Relevant Is CCHIT Certification In the HITECH Era? Chris wrote that one doctor called and asked: “Is CCHIT dead?” Here’s part of his response:

Dead? No. But it appears that the organization’s influence is waning.

In the spirit of point counterpoint, here are three reasons why CCHIT could become less relevant in the EHR industry:

1. Competition with other certifying entities;
2. Influence of regional extension centers; and,
3. Diminishing need for certification.

And here are three reasons why CCHIT could continue to remain relevant:

1. Institutional knowledge;
2. CCHIT products are a bridge to HITECH incentives; and,
3. Need for alternatives to government certification.

I agree with Chris in principle but the most important reason why CCHIT will continue to remain relevant for the next 18 to 24 months at least is that it’s already in so many rules, regulations, and other legal texts in various states. For example, state rules for reiumbursement of expenses on EMRs that came before ARRA’s HITECH provisions all listed, specifically, CCHIT as a required certification. Local rules and money from private hospitals and other organizations also list it by name. So many people still think that CCHIT is the official certifying body for ARRA (the plain fact is that legally, as of today, there are no meaningful use certifying bodies in existence).

Even the regional extension centers (RECs), organizations that didn’t even just 6 months ago, still reference CCHIT as requirements for EHRs to be included in their selection process (that, in my opinion should be illegal to do because we have taxpayer funded institutions that are requiring a certification not sanctioned by HHS).

CCHIT has a big PR problem because it has been too cozy with “big EMR” vendors that helped create the original test plans, the EHR vendors that haven’t been certified yet want it to fail and go away, and the government goes out of its way not to mention CCHIT in any official documents. Even with all these problems, though, CCHIT is nowhere near irrelevant, certainly not dead, and likely to rise from the ashes with new management. I think customers should forget about it because it’s a useless as a determining factor of success but vendors still need to assume CCHIT is still the big kid on the block and have to contend with it.

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3 thoughts on “Is CCHIT dead?

  1. While I can understand frustration that the RECs seem reliant on the same ol' rules of the HIT game as before, consider their position: since HHS hasn't provided them with any direction in terms of who will be certified or accredited (we don't even have the final meaningful use criteria!) they have to rely on something. Like it or not, CCHIT is something that many in the industry feel same with. That doesn't make this situation good, but I'd blame it as much on the absence of clear guidelines from the HHS as anything else.

    1. Michelle, you're certainly right that HHS hasn't given clear guidelines (there hasn't been enough time) — however, RECs are HHS vehicles and the RECs are being paid tax dollars to do government business. As such, they are and should be held responsible for their decisions. They can clearly choose to say they won't require CCHIT and that they will wait for HHS Certification but they didn't all that — they are just taking the easy way out. The main problem is that RECs have so little experience that they have to believe that CCHIT is actually something beneficial to their customers (the small office physicians). However, those of us that work with small practices (the RECs' customers) know that CCHIT certified systems don't necessarily provide the basic guarantees of interoperability, quality, usability, and capability that physicians are looking for. It's a false sense of security to say the least and because it's a false sense the real security you need is lacking. 🙂

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