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CHIME Fears Two-Stage Approach for Certification Will Lead to More Uncertainty

April 9, 2010
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The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) issued a statement saying that while it supports the general concept of moving to a two-stage approach for creating a certification process for EHRs, serious questions remain.

According to comments filed in a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on April 7, CHIME noted that it is “very concerned that the introduction of a two-stage approach for certification will prolong the current instability in the health IT marketplace, which exists because of the unfinalized status of meaningful use and certification regulations.”

The organization also said that the introduction of both a temporary and a permanent certification scheme “carries a risk of continuing the uncertainty and promoting needless product replacement in the marketplace.” CHIME is calling for the temporary process to be an interim one that builds on current certification strategies and is “harmonized” with the eventual permanent certification process, it said.

The CIO-led organization asserts that the certification process should be the responsibility of the vendor, and that the purpose of certification should be to provide healthcare organizations and professionals with assurance that the product they are purchasing can help them achieve meaningful use.

CHIME’s comments also recommended the following:

  • Changes in certification requirements are made only when necessary to meet meaningful use evolution or advance interoperability, not just because a certain amount of time has passed;
  • If CMS maintains the “adoption year” approach originally advanced in proposed regulations, providers should not be required to have products certified for capabilities not required in their current adoption year;
  • Individual EHR modules are certified to ensure that they can communicate according to adopted standards, and that the interoperability of those modules as used by providers is deemed as certified;
  • HIT vendors fully disclose functions for which their products are certified and fully disclose known compatibility issues;
  • If a certification body loses its authority to certify products, vendors should have six months to recertify products, and providers should not be penalized for a change in a product’s certified status if they are still able to demonstrate meaningful use.
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