Marginalization of CCHIT EHR Certification

Posted on July 22, 2009 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.

If you’ve read this blog for any time, you know that I’m not a big fan of CCHIT. Certainly, I can’t argue that CCHIT EHR certification isn’t a great marketing tool for EHR vendors. However, I strongly believe that the CCHIT certification gives doctors a false hope that the CCHIT certified EMR that they select will somehow have a higher implementation success rate than another EMR. If this were true, CCHIT would be certain to be proclaiming it from every channel possible. Instead, there’s no data that this is true and it’s sad that so many doctors think it’s the case.

With that background, I was quite happy to see that the HIT Policy Committee basically marginalized CCHIT into a certifying body as opposed to a EHR certification criteria creator. I’m a little disappointed that this news hasn’t gotten more play by the various news sources and blogs. Even John Halamka basically just linked to the EHR Certification presentation with no discussion on his blog about the implications of such.

Of course, CCHIT has so far gone quiet on their blog and twitter accounts. I’m sure that pretty soon we’ll be hearing some public statements from CCHIT trying to save its certification methodology. I expect they’ll start touting their certification as better, more complete and more effective than whatever criteria HHS comes up with to satisfy ARRA’s “certified EHR” criteria.

According to Iroman on EMR Update, CCHIT did send out the following email to their list of EMR vendors:
“For providers and hospitals to have any chance of meeting ARRA incentive requirements in 2011, certified EHR technologies must be promptly available,” said Dr. Leavitt. “To do that, we will launch preliminary HHS/ARRA EHR technology certification programs in less than 90 days, drawing upon our inspection and certification experience and marketplace knowledge. Our HHS/ARRA certification will be available to modular, open source, and self developed technologies as well as comprehensive EHRs. Our current, very comprehensive certification programs — though no longer the sole route to government certification — will become even more robust to serve EHR purchasers who want maximal assurance of EHR completeness and integration.”

I bet Dr. Leavitt had to run that last line by the lawyers. I think it’s pretty clear the direction CCHIT is headed. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard the last of CCHIT EHR certification.

One other interesting anecdote about CCHIT comes from PedSource who attending the recent CCHIT meeting.

Bill Zurhellen got up and said something which drew a round of applause. “If our goal is to certify to get ARRA payments, we’re doing the wrong thing. We should be focusing on improving health care.” ML replied, “We should consider changing the mission statement to reflect healthcare outcomes and improvement…” because, right now, the mission statement is focused solely on improving HIT use.