The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology has stopped its participation as a federal government-deemed certifier of electronic health records products under the EHR meaningful use program. The organization will use its expertise in a new venue by offering advisory services to providers and software vendors on EHR certification and other ways to advance interoperability of health information technology.

The American Health Information Management Association, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and National Alliance for Health Information Technology formed and initially funded CCHIT in 2004 to pave the way for certifying EHRs. About two years later, CCHIT became an independent, not-for-profit organization and began working under a federal government contact to develop and run a voluntary program to certify electronic health records products as supporting specific functionalities. The program later grew in scope and involved additional certifiers as the HITECH Act’s meaningful use incentive program was being implemented.

Now, CCHIT has aligned with HIMSS to launch new services, which it will unveil on February 26 at HIMSS14 with the first “CCHIT Summit—The Decade of Health IT,” from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. in Room 414. Among other activities, former national HIT coordinators David Brailer, Robert Kolodner and Farzad Mostashari will critique progress during the past decade.

CCHIT is recommending to EHR certification clients that they select ICSA Labs as their certification firm and will provide assistance as services are transferred.

CCHIT will continue to offer its subscription-based ONC testing and certification preparation service, called The Source. The suite of additional services will cover interoperability as well as understanding certification criteria and test methods, and for EHR developers clinical quality measures and meaningful use reporting advisory services.

The move in large part was dictated by finances. “It’s apparent to both providers and vendors that the pace of ONC 2014 Edition certification has been slowed by the challenges of more rigorous criteria and testing, and the timing and nature of further federal health I.T. program requirements remain uncertain,” Alisa Ray, CCHIT executive director, said in a statement. “With these changes, we can provide a greater level of support and counsel to providers and vendors, something we could not undertake as a government authorized certification body. At the same time, returning to our independent work, we can convene thought leaders and advisory groups to provide policy and governance recommendations, and guidance to the health care community here and internationally.”

In an interview with Health Data Management, Ray said Stage 2 is “too lumpy” and variable, and it’s been tough to manage cash flow. Unlike the other certification firms backed by large corporations, “We’re a small business and this has become our sole revenue.” By exiting the certification business, CCHIT is free to work toward its original mission and HIMSS’ partnership gives it scale and opens doors. Among other initiatives, CCHIT plans to convene advisory panels with the HIMSS membership, and also will offer summits and studies on issues related to interoperability and certification.

With the new direction comes a new board, comprised of: Dana Alexander R.N., vice president of integrated care delivery and chief nursing officer at Caradigm; Lori Evans Bernstein, president at GSI Health; Paul Kleeberg, M.D., CMIO at Stratis Health; Grace Terrell, M.D., president and CEO at Cornerstone; Andrew Wiesenthal, M.D., director at Deloitte Consulting; Hal Wolf, senior advisor at ADVI LLC; and Michael Zaroukian, M.D., vice president and CMIO at Sparrow Health System.

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