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Certifying for Success

April 17, 2007
by Mark Hagland
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CCHIT efforts are being felt clear across the country.

One healthcare IT area that has achieved some clear success so far is the certification of vendors' clinical information systems. Mark Leavitt, M.D., chairman of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), presented at HIMSS on the progress of his organization.

In January, CCHIT announced the certification of 18 additional EHR products, bringing to 55 the total number of such products in the ambulatory sphere. Things are moving quickly on the inpatient certification side, with inpatient product certification beginning in August of this year, said Portland Ore.-based Leavitt. And in 2008, he added, CCHIT will begin certifying RHIO/health information exchange (HIE) products, including homegrown product/service combinations.

Right now, it looks as though CCHIT will certify the master patient index (MPI) identity management component and the security component of RHIO products; but certification in that area could expand, as input comes from provider organizations and vendors. CCHIT's progress (and its concomitant embrace by the industry) has been purposely step-by-step, he said, with ambulatory products taken on first both because of physicians' need for guidance in their sector, and because they are less complex to assess.

Inpatient EHR products are "10 times more complicated than ambulatory EHRs," he noted. "The organizations are 10 times as large, and the software is 10 times as complex. But the initial focus on inpatient capabilities — electronic medication administration record (eMAR) — was chosen he said, because more organizations are implementing, or about to implement, meds administration than CPOE.

Acceptance by the industry has been gratifying, Leavitt said, adding, "We feel good about what we've accomplished; otherwise, our volunteers wouldn't keep coming."

Mark Hagland is a contributing writer based in Chicago.