Health IT commission postpones certifications

The federally-recognized Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) is deferring launch of its 2009-2010 certification programs until it reviews the health IT standards being developed by the Health and Human Services Department this summer under the economic stimulus law.

Established in 2004, the certification commission has developed several health IT standards and has certified vendors who meet the standards It was recognized by the Bush administration in 2006 as the only group federally authorized to certify health IT products and services. Under Bush-era policies, doctors and hospitals were encouraged to convert to digital record systems, but few did.

The Obama administration and Congress included $19 billion in the economic stimulus law in February to promote health IT adoption that includes payments to physicians and hospitals that buy and use certified systems. Under the law, HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will develop standards and a certification process.

The law also set up a policy committee and a standards committee to advise the national coordinator. The law did not specify a role for the CCHIT, but did not  rule one out.

Under a May 18 implementation plan, the national coordinator is required to deliver a draft rule on standards and certification criteria to HHS by Aug. 26, 2009.

Because of that timing, the certification commission said it will not be accepting vendor applications for its 2009-2010 programs until some time after that date.

“We will defer launch of our 2009-2010 inspection programs until we have reviewed that material, in order to ensure conformance of this program to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act incentive requirements,” Mark Leavitt, certification commission chairman, said in a statement on May 19.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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