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CCHIT to Leave the ONC Certification Business

Posted on January 28, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Update: Multiple people sent me the email that was sent to CCHIT certified EHR vendors that details this decision. In the email, along with what’s detailed below, CCHIT suggests a transition to ICSA Labs for EHR certification and talks about a new allegiance with HIMSS to provide new programs and policy guidance including a series of summits and events to support that work. I’m still waiting for an official response from CCHIT and will update the post if they respond.

Update 2: Here is CCHIT and HIMSS press release about the change and also ICSA Labs comments on the change. Drummond Group also issued this response.

I recently got word from a source close to the EHR certification world (yes, that could be just about any EHR vendor or EHR consultant) that CCHIT is about to announce they are leaving the ONC Certification business. I was told that CCHIT will test those that are already in the pipeline, but will not continue as an ONC EHR certifying body. I’d still classify this as a solid rumor for now (I emailed them for comment, but still haven’t gotten a response. I’ll update the post if I do.), but it comes from a reliable source. Plus, CCHIT did just cancel their weekly webinar series. No point in doing the webinar series if you’re not going to be certifying EHR anymore.

Whether the rumor is true or not, it’s worth considering the EHR Certification bodies and what would happen if any of them decide to not go forward with EHR certification. It will likely have a major impact on the meaningful use program.

I don’t think we should be surprised by this decision if indeed it is the case. CCHIT was started years before ARRA and meaningful use. They were created with a cost structure that was higher because they were charging a lot more for their EHR certification when they started. Once ARRA hit, CCHIT was marginalized and as EHR certification was commoditized and codified, CCHIT became irrelevant. Plus, with three new competitors certifying EHR, the prices for EHR certification dropped dramatically.

Furthermore, I think that all of the EHR certifying bodies are finding that 2014 EHR Certification is much more complex and time consuming than the 2011 certification. Yet the price to certify is basically the same. To me, the economics of the EHR certification business were never good.

Think about the business. Let’s say you get paid about $30,000 per EHR certification. There are only 600 customers (at the time we thought it was closer to 300) for your entire business and many of those don’t even pay the full $30k. Enter in 3 competitors and you’re now sharing a market of less than $18 million or $4.5 million per certifying body. Not to mention the stimulus is for only 5 years with many of the EHR vendors likely to consolidate, stop certifying, or go out of business. Plus, EHR certification is not a high margin business and requires expensive government certification. The economics just aren’t that exciting as an entire business.

This rumor is also interesting when paired with the comments I’ve heard that the EHR certification bodies have a backlog of EHR vendors that are trying to get 2014 certified. They’re having to schedule their testing day months out. If CCHIT gets out of the EHR certification business, then that will only increase the delay in 2014 EHR certifications. I wonder if this will lead to another call for a delay in meaningful use stage 2. Can it be delayed now that some have already started MU stage 2?

I’ve never been a fan of EHR certification. I think it represented a lot of cost and very little value to the EHR industry, doctors and patients. I’ll never forget when I asked Marc Probst, Intermountain CIO and member of the ONC committee that worked on EHR certification, why we needed EHR Certification if people had to show meaningful use of the requirements. If you can show meaningful use of a requirement, then the software can certainly do that requirement, no? He answered, “I lost that battle.”

Whether this rumor is true or not, the next couple months are going to be really interesting months for EHR vendors. How many will get across the 2014 EHR Certification line in time? How many will fail in the process? Will the ONC-CHPL be able to keep up? If CCHIT does leave ONC EHR certification behind, what will they do next? Can CCHIT do something to make themselves relevant again?

EHR Certification Results Published – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on September 17, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

We haven’t done many posts recently about EHR certification which is an integral part of getting to the Meaningful Use promised land. Although, when I read this post by EHR certification expert, Jim Tate, I thought it was worthy of pointing out and starting some discussion on the EHR certification requirements. Here’s a quote from the post that I found quite interesting:

Please allow me to report one final nuance to all this… A vendor can apply for 2011 Edition certification after 10/04/2012 but they will pay a price. They will be exposed to new ONC certification requirements: ”We also require that test results used for EHR technology certification be made publicly available” and “we require that ONC-ACBs ensure that EHR technology developers include in their marketing materials and communications notification to potential purchasers any additional types of costs that an EP, EH, or CAH would pay to implement their certified Complete EHR or certified EHR Module in order to attempt to meet MU objectives and measures”.

I find the idea that the ONC-ACBs have to publish the EHR certification test results quite interesting. What I’m not sure is whether this will really provide much value to those evaluating an EHR company. I know Jim Tate reads this blog and so hopefully he can chime in with any knowledge he has about the subject. Although, I wonder if the results that an ONC-ACB posts about an EHR will provide little value. Will the report essentially be a pass/fail report or will it provide more detailed information about what was found during the EHR certification process? Do we know what these reports will look like?

The later comment that requires an EHR company to disclose additional types of costs is quite intriguing. No doubt there are many EHR companies that have hid behind their hidden EHR costs in the past, so I love the requirement. I’m just not sure what enforcement mechanisms are available to ensure that EHR companies are following this requirement. Are their penalties for not doing this? Is there a reporting mechanism to report marketing that doesn’t follow this? As we all know, a rule without enforcement and penalties isn’t much of a rule at all.

Permanent EHR Certification Program

Posted on January 5, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Looks like the people at HHS and ONC have been working hard. On Monday this week they published the Permanent EHR Certification Program Final rule. You can find the press release about the Permanent EHR Certification final rule on my new EMR News website (if you have other EMR news, please let me know).

You can download the full Permanent EHR Certification final rule here (Warning: PDF). Although, I must admit that I found the permanent certification fact sheet very interesting. Here’s my summary:
*Testing and certification is expected to begin under the permanent certification program on January 1, 2012 (with an exception if it’s not ready)
*NIST (through its NVLAP) will continue with accrediting organization to test EHR and to work with ONC to create test tools and procedures
*A new ONC-Approved Accreditor of ONC-AA will be chosen every 3 years
*All ONC-ATCB (those bodies certified under the temporary) must apply to be ONC-ATB (permanent certification bodies)
*ONC-ACB have to renew every 3 years
*Gap Certification will be available for future EHR certification criteria.

The most interesting part to me was that ONC will be selecting an ONC-AA (Approved Accreditor) through a competitive bid process. So, they’re going to accredit an accreditor to accredit the certifiers? I think you get the gist. I can see how ONC saves so much by only having to have to deal with one ONC-AA and not the 6 ONC-ATCB (that was in the sarcasm font if you couldn’t tell).

It does make sense to have a gap certification so that EMR vendors that are already certified don’t have to certify against all the criteria every time. I guess in theory changes an EHR vendor has made could have caused issues with their previous functions, but that’s pretty rare. Especially since their users will need it to be able to show meaningful use (which is why EHR certification has little meaning beyond it being required for EHR incentive money).

Whether you agree or disagree with EHR certification (I think you know where I stand), you have to give ONC credit for pushing out the EHR certification program so that there are plenty of certified EHR software out there to choose from. Looks like they’re well on their way to implementing the permanent EHR certification as well.