Industry survey will begin expansion of CCHIT certification process

Healthcare IT News – By Diana Manos, Senior Editor

12/11/06 WASHINGTON – The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology announced Monday the release of a survey that will help determine what specialties, populations, or settings will be included in its expanded criteria within the next two years.

CCHIT Chair Mark Leavitt revealed on a “town call” that the survey, called an environmental scan, is intended to gather information to help CCHIT determine where to expand certification at the greatest cost savings to CCHIT and at the most immediate benefit to the industry.CCHIT, which began certification of ambulatory electronic health record products in May 2006 and gained recognition from the Department of Health and Human Services as a recognized certification body in October, announced November 28 plans to expand its certification.

According to Alisa Ray, CCHIT executive director, the Commission will use the survey to select 2 or 3 specialties to certify, and will develop a roadmap to forecast additional expansion to include other areas. The entire process will be transparent to the public and will allow for public comment, she said.

“We want to be fair and objective,” Ray indicated. “For each potential expansion area, we will be looking at the benefit, readiness of that area for certification, and what is needed to evolve an initiative in that area.”

Leavitt said it is difficult to predict what CCHIT will do without first taking into account the results of the survey.

“It’s not practical to have a completely different set of criteria for every specialty from the ground up,” Leavitt said. “We would like to set up core criteria with a modular set of additional criteria that addresses setting, population or specialty.”

Leavitt added that the current ambulatory certification criteria and the inpatient criteria could be merged in the future.

Questions following the town call included concerns over the cost of specialty certification for vendors. Leavitt said funding for certification should be acquired easily through the additional business a certified vendor will be able to draw.

According to Leavitt, CCHIT will collect surveys until January 12. The public comment period on CCHIT’s draft roadmap for certification expansion will be February 1 – 28, with a finalized roadmap expected March 12.

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