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CCHIT Has Become Irrelevant

Posted on June 22, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those of you that are relatively new to EMR and HIPAA, you might not appreciate this post as much as long time readers of EMR and HIPAA. A few years back, I admit that I was pretty harsh on CCHIT and their EHR certification. I remember one guy stopping me at a conference and after realizing who I was asked, “so what’s your issue with CCHIT?” I was happy to answer that I thought they misled the industry (doctors in particular) by saying that the CCHIT certification provided an assurance that the EHR was a good EHR. They never came outright and said this, but that’s what EMR sales people would communicate during the sales process.

In fact, EHR certification was incorrectly seen by many doctors and practice managers as the stamp of approval on an EHR being of higher quality, more effective, easier to use, and was more likely to lead to a successful EHR implementation. EHR certification today still has some of these issues. However, the fact is that the EHR certification doesn’t certify any of the great list above. If EHR certification of any kind (CCHIT or otherwise) could somehow assure: a higher implementation success rate, a better level of patient care, a higher quality user experience, a financial benefit, or any other number of quality benefits, then I’d support it wholeheartedly. The problem is that it doesn’t, and so they can’t make that assurance.

So, yes, I do take issue with an EHR certification which misleads doctors. Even if it’s the EHR salespeople that do the misleading.

I still remember the kickback I got on this post I did where I said CCHIT Was Marginalized and the post a bit later where I said that the CCHIT process was irrelevant. Today, I came across an article on CMIO with some interesting quotes from CCHIT Chair, Karen Bell. Here’s a quote from that article.

In addition, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) new program has provided two new reasons for certification: proof that an EHR can do the things that the government wants it to do, and to enable eligible providers and hospitals to get EHR incentive money.

“The idea is not to assure the product will do all things that are desired for patient care, instead, the idea is to stimulate innovation,” said Bell. As a result, the program is considered a major success because more than 700 certified health IT products are now on the ONC website. “The idea was to get a lot of new products started. This is a very different reason for certification than what we began doing several years ago,” she said.

However, just because CCHIT or another ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB) doesn’t test and certify for a particular ability, that doesn’t mean the EHRs don’t have it. “It’s just up to [the provider] to make sure the vendors have it,” said Bell.

I first want to applaud Karen Bell and CCHIT for finally describing the true description of what EHR provides a clinic assurance that:
1. The EHR does what the government wants
2. You are eligible for the EHR incentive money
Then, she even goes on to say that it’s up to the providers to make sure the vendors have the right capabilities for their clinic.

I imagine Karen and CCHIT would still probably say that the CCHIT “complete” EHR certification provides assurance that…< fill in the blank >, which the ONC-ATCB EHR certification doesn’t provide. The happy part for me is that even if CCHIT says this, no one is really listening to that message anymore.

Yes, CCHIT has essentially become irrelevant.

I can’t remember anyone in the past year asking me about CCHIT certification. From my experience, many people care about ONC-ATCB EHR certification, but they really couldn’t care less if it comes from CCHIT, Drummond Group, ICSA Labs, SLI Global, or InfoGuard (That’s all of them right?). Have any of you had other experiences?

I also do enjoy the irony of this post coming right after my post about differentiation of EMR companies (Jabba vs Han Solo). CCHIT is the reason that I know so much about the challenge of EHR differentiation. CCHIT’s efforts provided some very valuable (and lengthy) discussions over the past 5 years about ways to help doctors differentiate between the 300+ EHR vendors. As you can see from my comments above, I was just never satisfied with CCHIT being the differentiating factor. As you can see from my post yesterday, I’m still searching for a satisfactory alternative for differentiating EHRs. Until then, we’ll keep providing an independent voice a midst all the noise.

Advice to Karen Bell, CCHIT Head

Posted on April 16, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I previously posted about the new head of CCHIT, Karen Bell. Most of you probably know that I’m not a huge fan of CCHIT, but I’ve decided that I’d like to give Dr. Bell some advice for CCHIT. Free consulting. How cool is that? Here we go…

If Dr. Bell really wants to solidify CCHIT’s position in the EHR world she’ll find a way to show that the CCHIT EHR certification improves usability, EMR implementation success, reimbursement, etc. CCHIT has some vague terminology about the “assurances” that CCHIT certification provide. Unfortunately, they end up being empty assurances about things that doctors don’t really value.

I’d be really impressed to see an independent study done on the EMR implementation success of CCHIT certified EHR versus non-certified EHR. Or how about a study comparing the usability of CCHIT certified EHR versus non-certified EHR. Let’s see some real data on assurances that doctors actually care about. Do that and everyone will want a CCHIT certified EHR.

Unfortunately, if you do go this route, you need to be open to the possibility that an independent study would find that CCHIT certified EHR have a higher EMR implementation failure rate or that CCHIT certified EHR are less usable. What would CCHIT do then (besides try to manipulate the study to look the way they want)?

What’s more unfortunate, is that studies like this should have been performed before Congress decided to just include the term “certified EHR” without actually knowing what consequence (good or bad) that term might have on the EHR industry.

New CCHIT Head, Karen Bell

Posted on April 13, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As always, Chilmark Research has a nice post up talking about the new head of CCHIT, Karen Bell. You can see the official CCHIT announcement here.

Chilmark brings up two interesting points about what he thinks we can expect from Karen Bell as head of CCHIT.

Dr. Bell knows Washington DC and HHS quite well from her many years there. She is effective in a highly politicized environment and will be able to effectively lead CCHIT through that political minefield.

Dr. Bell will put up a Chinese Wall between CCHIT and the HIT vendor organization, HIMSS. She is fully aware of the perceived conflicts of interest between CCHIT and HIMSS and will seek to create some distance between these two organizations.

I first must say that the first part is a really smart move by CCHIT. I’d always wondered why CCHIT didn’t have more influence and connection in Washington. That seems like a core competency that they’d want to have to survive. They should have had all the information from HHS before anyone else and they didn’t. I wonder if Dr. Bell will be able to do that for them now.

The second part seems a bit like Chilmark dreaming and hoping. I have a strong feeling that Dr. Bell does indeed realize the conflict and would desire to create that separation. However, I have serious doubts that she will change much of the structure even if she could (which I think might not be possible).

I say this first because Dr. Bell was a representative on CCHIT’s board of commissioners from 2006-2008. Why didn’t she effect this separation back then? Seems like the board of commissioners would have some reasonable control over this.

The answer might lie in the inability to make such a change. Notice I didn’t say her inability. I said the inability. It’s quite possible that there are just too many external pressures for her to break CCHIT’s strong ties with EMR vendors. Of course, nothing would make me happier than for Dr. Bell to prove me wrong. No doubt that would be a most impressive accomplishment.

With all of this said, the real question is, “Does anyone care?” As Chilmark aptly points out, “have yet to see any demonstrable proof that CCHIT certification has moved the EHR/EMR adoption needle in any statistically meaningful way” Beyond that, if ONC does there job, doctors will finally get the information that it’s ARRA EHR Certification that matters and not CCHIT certification. That will take some time to change, but it’s starting to happen. If (and when?) it happens, will anyone care much about CCHIT anymore?