New CCHIT Head, Karen Bell

Posted on April 13, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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?