CCHIT Certifies EHRs and HIEs

By Neil Versel, contributing editor

Sept. 30, 2008 | It is shaping up to be a busy week for the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT).

On Tuesday, the federally sanctioned private organization said that eight ambulatory electronic health records (EHR) products earned full certification under the new 2008 criteria for interoperability, and two more EHRs are conditionally certified once they are operational in physician offices. The announcement comes one day after the commission posted the first draft of its 2009 certification criteria. CCHIT is taking public comments until Oct. 28 on the six sets of proposed standards.

Tomorrow, CCHIT will open the first-ever application period for certification of health information exchanges (HIE). That program is a two-phased process, with network security testing to begin shortly after applications come in, CCHIT chairman Mark Leavitt told Digital HealthCare & Productivity. To earn certification, HIEs also will have to prove themselves capable of transmitting and receiving at least one of three specific transactions: laboratory documents, laboratory reports, or patient summaries.

The transaction portion of the HIE testing likely will start in December, so CCHIT is calling its current program the 2009 version, according to Leavitt. He says that the commission needs the additional time to develop new capabilities for its Laika testing platform. (See “Project Laika Leaders Provide Progress Report.”)

CCHIT has obtained $200,000 in federal funding for this program, and will use the money to offer grants to not-for-profit HIEs with annual revenue of less than $6 million. “This scholarship is for the needy,” Leavitt says. Half of the grant money will help offset $10,000 of the $20,000 security testing fee for 10 applicants, while the rest will go to a small portion of the transaction application cost.

Each transaction test will cost $10,000, Leavitt says. Grants will reduce the cost of the first test by $1,000, the second by $3,000, and the third by $5,000. HIEs will only need to demonstrate capabilities with one transaction to earn certification.

The ambulatory certifications announced today are the first under the 2008 CCHIT criteria. The new standards include, for the first time, “advanced” electronic prescribing requirements—namely medication lists, medication history, patient eligibility, and formularies—as well as the ability to send and receive electronic patient summaries, in the Continuity of Care Document format.

Also new is optional testing for specialty-specific functionality, in pediatrics and cardiovascular care. Seven vendors earned this additional certification.

The eight new fully CCHIT Certified 08 ambulatory EHR products are:

All of the above, with the exception of MedLink, earned additional certification for child health. Greenway’s PrimeSuite and NextGen EMR also were certified for cardiovascular medicine.

Given pre-market conditional certification were Pulse Patient Relationship Management, version 4.1, from Pulse Systems (Wichita, Kan.), and SmartClinic, version 16, from VIP Medicine (Wykoff, N.J.).

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