Five groups earn permanent EHR authorization status

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Five organizations have been authorized to approve EHRs through the permanent certification program for health IT.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has authorized the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), the Drummond Group, ICSA Labs, InfoGard Laboratories and Orion Register to serve as certification bodies under the EHR incentive payment program.

In July, all five organizations were accredited by the American National Standards Institute as certification bodies and by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program as accredited testing laboratories for EHR systems.

A January 2011 final rule created permanent and separate EHR testing and certification programs for the incentive payment programs. The permanent programs replace a temporary testing and certification effort set up to get the EHR incentive program started. Under the temporary program, EHR testing and certification functions were combined and performed by the same organizations.

When the permanent program begins on October 4, the same organization can perform both testing and certification, but the procedures to receive authorization to do both are now separate, and the organizations must maintain a "firewall" between those functions, according to the ONC, which has an explanation of the program on its website.

CCHIT will continue to offer testing and certification services under the temporary program and continue to test and certify systems under the Stage 1 certification criteria in the permanent program.

New testing and certification criteria for the 2014 edition were released in the Stage 2 final rule.