The Certification Commission for Health Care Information Technology has started the process of updating its 2011 criteria to conform to the interim final rule that establishes standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria for electronic health record.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology published the rule on Jan. 13, effective on Feb. 12 meaning the criteria are adopted, but with a comment period through March 15 that could result in modifications. ONC in coming months will publish another rule to establish the actual EHR certification process. At least one other entity besides CCHIT, Drummond Group Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, has said it intends to apply to become a certifying body for EHRs. The firm operates a test laboratory offering interoperability/conformance testing and certification.

The interim final rule has "no big surprises" says Alisa Ray, executive director at CCHIT. A gap analysis comparing the initial CCHIT 2011 criteria and criteria in the rule is available at cchit.org/get_certified. CCHIT will offer incremental testing at no charge to about two dozen vendors whose products have received 2011 certification.  The organization will soon publish updated criteria and scripts for other EHR vendors and start accepting applications on Feb. 12.  A Web-based teleconference, open to all, is scheduled for Jan. 26. More information is available at cchit.org/about/towncalls/hhs-ifr-hit-gap-analysis.

CCHIT also is developing, in time for a launch this summer, a "Site Certification" program to accommodate provider organizations with EHR systems already implemented. The program will be designed to inspect and certify any mix of technologies in place, whether commercial, open source, or in-house developed. CCHIT soon will issue more information on this program.

--Joseph Goedert

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