CCHIT extending EHR certificates to specialties
The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHITSM) has plans to expand its certification scope of work for ambulatory electronic health record (EHR) products to begin addressing some medical specialties and specialized care settings. The Department of Health and Human Services has approved of this work and is funding it, the Commission said in a release.

"Expanding the use of certified electronic health records for different specialties within the healthcare community means more patients will have access to better quality care at better value," said Robert Kolodner, MD, interim National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, HHS. "This expansion of the certification process will lead to significant improvements in the quality of individual's healthcare and the overall health of the population."

The Commission said that there has been a call from practitioners and vendors within various medical specialties that the certifications grow beyond their initial broad definition.

“Now we’ll make certification even more valuable by starting to differentiate according to the needs of specialized disciplines and settings," said Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD, chair, CCHIT. Leavitt added, "We can only tackle two or three specialized areas during this next year, but these will pave the way to do even more in the future."

CCHIT will begin by establishing a fair and objective process for prioritizing which specialties should be addressed first. Factors in this prioritization will include the amount of criteria development work required, the readiness of the specialty to participate in development, and the potential positive impact certification could have on EHR adoption in the specialty.

Just yesterday, the Commission announced that it will launch an industry survey that will be used to identify two or three highest priority initial specialties to certify. Work will be done to also identify which other specialties will be included down the road.

The Commission has stated that it hopes to have a plan in place for which specialty certifications will be established first by mid-March.