Monday, May 11, 2009

New methods of certification... and forming groups

I got the impression from the HIT Policy Committee meeting this morning, and the comments from David Blumenthal, M.D. National Coordinator for Health Information Technology that the certification process for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) will be changing. Blumenthal did not specify if the Certification Commission for Healthcare IT (CCHIT) which was established under the previous administration and currently certifies EHR systems now available on the market, will retain any functions along with the two new advisory committees. "The certification process is under review," Blumenthal said, adding, "There was a complicated committee structure in the past"
It seems that CCHIT will either be relaced by a new organization or be substantially changed by the HIT Policy Committee and the Office of the Nation Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT). I hope that the thousands of hours already expended in developing certification standards for EHRs will not be wasted.
The commitee is large and somewhat unwieldy. I was glad to see that they plan to split the work between different categories and even left open the possibility that nonmembers of the committee could assist in work groups.
Much of the meeting was devoted to the formation of work groups to do the heavy lifting for the HIT Policy committee. After initally listing at least six possible groups, three were eventually decided upon. One was a work group to come up with an initial set of criteria for the “meaningful use." This group would also develop ways for the government to assist in the adoption of health IT systems. The second work group would focus on requirements of IT system certification. And the third group would address workforce development needs.
I expected them to assign a group that would give direction to the HIT Standards Committee, but not much direction was forthcoming. We will have to wait and see...


  1. Thanks for following that for us this morning Brian. I sometimes forget the key role that the ONC staff will play in this process along with the staff for the policy committee.

    I noticed that they have a budget of 1.5 million along with 4 staff so perhaps they will be able to move faster then the voluntary work that was done in the past.

  2. Check out Joahn Halamka's Blog for a report from Dr. Walter Suarez, CEO of the Institute for HIPAA/HIT Education on the meeting...

  3. Brian, if what you say is true, it will scare the dickens out of everyone banking on CCHIT. Short of a miracle, I do not see how another organization could take over from CCHIT and certify in prescribed timeframe. This makes no valuation of whether CCHIT is hitting the mark in its certifications. The concern is more how one could set up an organization, establish the certification criteria and certify hundreds of products before the 2011 deadline arrives.

    Perhaps one scenario is to take CCHIT and run it through the equivalence of bankruptcy…..keep the people, keep the cert processes but change the charter and structure.

  4. I hope that I am wrong about CCHIT... it would be a shame to cause a significant delay in the certification process. I really am only suggesting it as a possibility - it is hard to say what direction ONCHIT will take based on the one meeting. I will certainly be following events closely.