Health records group gets California grant

Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology

The California HealthCare Foundation awarded a $219,000 grant to the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology to support the national certification process for electronic health records (EHRs).

The commission acts as an umbrella organization for health IT standards backed by the American Health Information Management Association, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the National Alliance for Health IT. Commission members are developing standards for ambulatory care records, which would cover functionality, interoperability, security and reliability.

E-health records offer "great potential" for improving quality and efficiency in doctors' offices, said Sam Karp, chief program officer at the California HealthCare Foundation.

"Certifying that EHR products meet specified standards for functionality, security and interoperability is an important step in encouraging investment in these products, especially for physicians in solo and small practices," Karp said in a statement.

Dr. Mark Leavitt, chairman of the commission, said his organization plans to bid on a Health and Human Services certification-consulting contract released last week. Any other group would need a considerable amount of time to match the standards expertise that the commission has developed since it was founded last July, Leavitt said.

The commission closed a public comment period on its draft certification proposals last month and will have a more refined version available for a second round of comment in July. The commission plans to test its certification standards with EHR products this fall.

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