Cost of New CCHIT EHR Certifications

Posted on September 14, 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.

Time to take a look at the costs associated with the 2011 CCHIT Certification programs. If you’re not sure which programs I’m talking about, you need to go read my post about Preliminary ARRA Certified 2011 and CCHIT Certified 2011.

The following are the costs that CCHIT plans to charge for their 2011 EHR certifications:
CCHIT Certified 2011 Ambulatory EHR – $37,000 with a $9,000 annual renewal
CCHIT Certified 2011 Inpatient EHR – $49,000 with a $9,000 annual renewal
CCHIT Certified 2011 Emergency Department – $37,000 with a $9,000 annual renewal
CCHIT Certified 2011 ePrescribing – $18,000 with a $9,000 annual renewal

Preliminary ARRA Certified 2011 1-2 modules – $6,000 with a $1,000 annual renewal
Preliminary ARRA Certified 2011 3-5 modules – $10,000 with a $2,000 annual renewal
Preliminary ARRA Certified 2011 6-10 modules – $15,000 with a $3,000 annual renewal
Preliminary ARRA Certified 2011 11-20 modules – $24,000 with a $4,000 annual renewal
Preliminary ARRA Certified 2011 >20 modules – $33,000 with a $5,000 annual renewal
*These are estimates subject to final approval

Of course, the ones that matter most are the CCHIT Certified 2011 Ambulatory EHR for $37,000 and the Preliminary ARRA Certified 2011 >20 modules for $33,000. Why? These are the two certifications that most people care about. If you’re an EHR vendor, then you’re going to want to do one of these two options (Assuming you’re going to go with CCHIT certification. More on that later.). These are the two options which should eventually be recognized as the certified EHR requirement for the ARRA EHR stimulus money.

Which CCHIT Certification Should I Do?
The question an EHR vendor has to make is which of these two certifications make sense. Will having CCHIT Certified 2011 help you to sell more EHR software than just being Preliminary ARRA Certified? I’m guessing that it probably won’t. Most people I’ve seen really just want to make sure they get the ARRA stimulus money to pay for their EHR. Plus, with either certification you’ll be able to honestly tell a clinic that you have a “certified EHR.” Most doctors won’t know or care about the difference in the certification types.

Many might think that it’s only a $4,000 difference between the Preliminary ARRA 2011 certification and the CCHIT Certified 2011 so why not just get the later. It is interesting that the costs are so close to each other. However, remember that this isn’t the only cost associated with becoming certified. One EMR vendor I talked to put the software development costs to become CCHIT Certified in the six figures. We won’t know for sure until CCHIT publishes the final certification criteria, but I project that the CCHIT Certified requirements will number close to 300 while the Preliminary ARRA requirements will be close to 100. That’s a huge difference in development costs to meet 200 more requirements which your customers may or may not find useful.

Some might use the CCHIT Certified 2011 to try and assure potential buyers that they’ll have a more successful EMR implementation because of this certification. Many might actually believe it, but unfortunately there’s no evidence to prove this is actually the case.

EHR vendors should also be aware that CCHIT is looking at doing a site certification as well. This might be a better option for some EHR vendors who work with people who have few people actually interested in the EHR stimulus money.

Other EHR Certification Options Beyond CCHIT
It’s still too early to know for sure if other EHR certifying bodies are going to be created to handle the HHS certification requirements for EHR. However, I’m willing to bet that at least a couple will be created.

Basically, CCHIT has set the price for EHR ARRA certification at $33,000 with a $5,000 annual renewal. I could be wrong, but that seems like a lot of money to certify a piece of software. I’m guessing that some entrepreneurial folks will find a way to do it for cheaper. Could you certify 100 EMR vendors for less than $3.3 million? We’ll see what ONC/NIST requires from a certification organization, but seems like a pretty nice business model to me.

For EMR vendors, this is important because competition amongst certifying bodies will most certainly drive the cost of EMR certification down. Then, the PR battle between CCHIT and the new certifying bodies will begin. Basically, this could be really interesting to watch if someone else decides to join the EHR certifying fray.