Industry leaders launch HIT product certification initiative

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The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and National Alliance for Health Information Technology (the Alliance) have established a collaborative initiative for the certification of ambulatory electronic health records (EHRs).

The organizations said that the alliance recognizes the healthcare industry's need for and interest in certification of EHR products.

Leaders of the three groups have committed staff and funding to launch the private-sector effort, and have invited key leaders and stakeholders in healthcare to join an industry-wide board that will guide the certification initiative.

On July 13 in Washington D.C., an initial organizational meeting was held with leaders of physician and other healthcare professional associations, information technology (IT) vendors, health plans, and self-insured employers to develop a broad-based and allied approach to the certification issue.

"Electronic health records can improve the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of healthcare, but adoption must be accelerated," said Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD, chair of the initial group meeting and HIMSS medical director. "We believe that voluntary, private-sector certification of these systems will let physicians and other healthcare professionals select and implement these products with greater speed and confidence, and ensure that information can be securely exchanged as the nation's health information infrastructure develops."

The group formally announced the ambulatory EHR product certification initiative at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretarial Summit on Health Information Technology meeting in Washington, D.C., on July 21-23. Board members for the certification initiative will be announced in the next several weeks, the group stated.

In addition, HIMSS said it is pursuing a collaborative role in HHS's recently announced "Health Information Technology Leadership Panel" to advise Secretary Tommy Thompson and David Brailer, MD, PhD, on the costs and benefits of IT in the healthcare sector and to propose viable options for widespread implementation of EHRs.