CCHIT sole EHR certifier for now

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The Department of Health and Human Resources Health IT Policy Committee has approved recommendations providing that the Certification Commission for Health IT (CCHIT) remain the sole EHR certifying organization – in the short term anyway.

Government Health IT reported that the decision--announced at a meeting of the HIT Policy Committee on Aug. 14—leaves CCHIT as the sole certifying body until the meaningful use definitions are finalized in December.

But, as part of a series of five recommendations proposed by the certification and adoption work group, and accepted by the policy committee, “multiple organizations” will have the opportunity to become accredited to perform HHS-approved certification testing

The certification and adoption work group first recommended that a focus should be placed on meaningful use, meaning the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT should determine the criteria for HHS certification that is necessary to meet the functional requirements of the statute and achieve meaningful use objectives.

The second set of recommendations call for progress to be made on security, privacy, and interoperability. The third set of recommendations, which includes the proposal that multiple organizations be allowed to perform certification testing, urges that the certification process be made more objective and transparent. This includes a specific recommendation that ONC should work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a comprehensive process for conformity of assessment, including certification, testing, accreditation and surveillance.

Under the third set of recommendations, the certification and adoption work group said that accredited organizations must use identical criteria and provide a “level playing field” so that all certification organizations offer the same level of scrutiny. In addition, ONC needs to develop a comprehensive communications plan describing the new certification plan and explaining the meaning of HHS certification.

The fourth group of recommendations calls for certification to include a range of software solutions, and the last set of recommendations calls for the establishment of a short-term certification transition plan. This is necessary since an official definition of “meaningful use" is still not set and vendors will need to have some guidance if they are to prepare for what will likely be the final set of criteria.