CCHIT reveals ambulatory testing criteria
The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) approved new 2007 criteria for ambulatory (office-based) electronic health records (EHRs). Look for final criteria, test scripts, and associated documents to be posted on the CCHIT web site,, by March 19. A revised handbook and contract agreement will be posted soon as well. The ambulatory criteria will go into effect May 1.

Among requirements, systems must be able to send prescriptions and refills to pharmacies electronically. In addition, vendors must demonstrate their product’s ability to electronically receive standards-based lab result messages.

CCHIT has also provided for vendors and users a roadmap of expected additional requirements for 2008 and 2009 so that preparation and planning can be done.

"These latest materials show not only the concrete progress made during the past year, but also the path forward toward more complete interoperability of EHRs and health information networks in the years ahead," said Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD, chair, CCHIT.

The commission will also host a town hall teleconference on April 5 at 11a.m EST to discuss the 2007 ambulatory criteria, test scripts and certification process.

Regarding the roadmap for expansion of EHR certification for additional populations, settings, and specialties, the first population-based requirements will address capabilities needed for safe, quality healthcare for children. The initial new care setting addressed will be the emergency department, and first up for professional specialty areas is cardiovascular medicine.

"After being asked to expand the scope of certification to address more specialized needs, we invited input from any and all stakeholders. The commission reviewed this data and created a roadmap to prioritize the expansion by examining the potential benefits, readiness, and effort involved in each area," added Leavitt. "The first of these efforts could begin as early as April of this year."

The roadmap will be posted to the commission’s web site March 19, with more details planned for release mid-April.

In other activities, CCHIT also approved test scripts for inpatient EHRs. CCHIT will seek public comment on the scripts, which will be posted on or before March 23, with comments accepted via the web site until April 13.