Goals of HIT product certification

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Just prior to Health & Human Services Secretary Mark Leavitt’s announcement of the first batch of ambulatory EHR products that earned certification on July 18th (see story above), speakers at this week’s Health Information Technology (HIT) Symposium at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., discussed the goals of product certification. “We wanted to address perceived barriers to wider adoption,” said Carol Diamond, MD, MPH, of the Markle Foundation. “It’s been difficult for smaller practices sort out.”

The Certification Committee for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) had four goals for product certification:

  • Reduce the risks of investing in HIT
  • Facilitate interoperability of HIT products
  • Enhance availability of adoption incentives
  • Ensure that the privacy of personal health information is protected

Diamond said certified ambulatory EHR products will be announced in batches and then probably quarterly. However, “the workgroup is raising the bar for next year.”

Certification is a pass-fail indication that the product meets basic criteria. It provides a baseline above which HIT vendors may innovate and compete. In 2007, the effort will expand to the networks and technology components through which EHRs interoperate.

Vendors whose products do not pass can reapply. The workgroup will not reveal how many companies applied for certification so that no one can know how many products failed, and it will not reveal which companies did not obtain certification.

Meanwhile, the CCHIT will transition from HHS funding to a self-sustaining model when its initial three-year funding ends. Diamond said its efforts will probably be funded through certification application fees at that point.