Within a day of being selected as an Authorized Testing and Certification Body for electronic health records, The Drummond Group Inc. posted on its Web site information for EHR vendors and is accepting applications.

Austin, Texas-based Drummond could have a three-week head start on the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, also selected as an ATCB. CCHIT has scheduled a conference call on Sept. 20 to explain its application and testing processes, and will take applications immediately afterward. CCHIT has no new certification information readily apparent on its Web site; a spokesperson could not immediately confirm if new information is currently available.

Drummond already has such information in a 10-page guide available at drummondgroup.com/html-v2/EHR/. Prices, for instance, are $19,500 for remote testing and $23,500 plus travel for onsite testing for complete ambulatory and inpatient EHRs. Prices for module tests range from $11,500 to $16,000 for remote tests and $15,500 to $20,000, plus travel for onsite. A 50 percent deposit of test fees is required before a test is scheduled.

All ATCBs must support remote and onsite testing, and remote is the preferred method for Drummond Group, according to the firm. Remote and onsite tests are conducted the same except that the proctor views results in person at onsite tests rather than remotely. Open source products are considered and treated the same as commercial products.

Drummond's guide also explains how tests are done remotely, identifies free or inexpensive remote video tools, and provides tips for being fully prepared for the test. Certifications attesting a specific EHR product fully supports Stage 1 meaningful use criteria are valid for 2011 and 2012.

CCHIT's approach is more deliberative, as it always has been, according to a spokesperson. The organization is developing additional guidelines beyond the federal guidance and is working to validate a number of the new test steps. The National Institute of Standards and Technology developed the test steps, which have not been used in an actual real test, so more validation is warranted, according to CCHIT.

Consequently, CCHIT's slower approach is deliberate and won't be changed to keep pace with Drummond Group, the spokesperson says. "It wouldn't be helpful if we took a few applications immediately and the vendors didn't do very well," the spokesperson says. "We want the vendors to be successful the first time out."

--Joseph Goedert


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