EHR product certification passes test

Certification Commission for Healthcare IT

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The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) is on track to issue its first certifications of health IT software for use in physicians’ offices in late June, the organization reported yesterday.

Dr. Mark Leavitt, the commission chairman, said in a teleconference that the pilot test of the certification process had shown it worked as expected. He said testing of products will begin late next month.

The commission has published detailed information about the tests on its Web site. Some details remain to be resolved, including the fees software companies will have to pay for the testing and certification. Leavitt said each company may be asked to pay about $30,000 for a three-year certification.

He also said the companies should expect to spend one and a half days putting their products through their paces for the panel of doctors who will judge whether the product meets CCHIT criteria.

CCHIT certification will provide independent verification that products conform to some interoperability standards, provide privacy and security safeguards, and have certain functions. The goal is to reduce doctors’ anxiety about acquiring electronic health records systems.

One change to the original plan involves the judging. CCHIT originally expected the judges to reach a consensus on whether the product passed the tests, but that proved unworkable, Leavitt said. Now a simple majority vote will determine the outcome.

Although the commission is still accepting comments on its testing process, Leavitt said suggestions should involve refinements to the existing criteria because it is too late to add new test criteria for the first round of the certification process. The tests will be updated in the future as new standards and product features emerge.

CCHIT is now developing a certification process for inpatient EHR systems.

A $2.7 million contract from the Department of Health and Human Services supports the work of CCHIT, a nonprofit organization formed by several health IT professional associations.

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