CCHIT to provide certification across settings, populations and specialties

By Diana Manos, Senior Editor Healthcare IT NEws 03/09/07

WASHINGTON – The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is developing a concept that will allow certification across settings, populations and specialties over and above basic EHR certification. CCHIT Chair Mark Leavitt, MD, made the announcement at a session of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in New Orleans last week.

Leavitt said the reason the Commission is considering such a plan is that most physicians provide care across more than one setting and to more than one population. “Most documents work across many settings. It’s like soup,” Leavitt said. “That’s why CCHIT began to ask whether one set of certification criteria can cover everything–and the answer was, no, not for long.”

Populations, such as varying ages of patients, are a big concern, Leavitt noted. Documents need to cover certain things such as growth charts for children, but not for adults.

CCHIT plans to introduce its proposed dimensions of certification within two years, beginning with products that can serve behavioral healthcare, long-term care, home care, emergency care, and cardiology. The Commission is discussing adding allergy, dermatology, neurology and ophthalmology in years to follow and welcomes input from various other specialties interested in access to products certified for their use. Based on a recent survey conducted by CCHIT, cardiologists were chosen first because they were the most prevalent in their responses, Leavitt said.

CCHIT is also currently working on developing inpatient EHR test criteria and is accepting comments on its second draft criteria until March 16 with a certification launch date of August. “In-patient EHR certification is ten times more complex than ambulatory,” Leavitt said.

In 2008, CCHIT plans to develop, pilot test and launch certification of health information networks, according to Leavitt.

“The future is interoperability,” Leavitt said. “I see health information exchange networks as a first demo with potential for sharing, but what we’ll need is to test interoperability. We will need a test network to simulate a network. We all need this, but there are no contracts to build it so far.”

According to Alisa Ray, executive director of CCHIT, within the last 10 months, the Commission has certified 57 ambulatory health record products. On March 19, CCHIT will publish the final criteria for the 2007 ambulatory EHR certification and will begin accepting applications for certification on May 1, Ray said.

CCHIT, an independent, nonprofit organization, has received a number of endorsements from trade associations and the federal government, including the Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, Medical Group Management Association and the Physician’s Foundations for Health Systems Excellence, Leavitt said.

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