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CCHIT Cha-Cha-Cha

August 8, 2008
by vciotti
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A recent press release announced another round of HIS vendors have made the grade getting their acute care EHRs certified by CCHIT. That brings the totals up to some pretty high numbers: about 100 ambulatory EHRs and about 15 acute care EHRs. So, if almost every vendor has their EHR certified, what good is the certification in evaluating EHRs in a competitive search? I guess one could make it a pre-qualifier in an RFI: only bid if your EHR is certified. Then, in the ambulatory market, you only have to issue RFPs to 100 vendors to narrow the field further...

Wouldn't it be nice if CCHIT would publish a list of those vendors that

failed - that would be a handy list of systems with suspect functionality. In addition, publish a list of those vendors who have

not submitted their EHRs for certification. There's a big difference between those two lists! Many small vendors stumble at the fee CCHIT charges to submit their products, somewhere in the high 5-figures I heard at a seminar in Chicago last winter. A drop in the bucket for giants like McKesson & Cerner, but a bit daunting for smaller start-up companies who often have the most leading edge products...

I suggested to CCHIT at that seminar that they should change their pricing formula to mimic the way vendors gouge, er, charge hospitals: the bigger you are, the more you pay. Same system, same software, same support etc, but a 300 bed hospital pays several orders of magnitude more in license fees than a 100 bed hospital. Would be nice if CCHIT gave them a dose of their own medicine: billion dollar vendors pay 6-figures for certification, million dollar vendors pay 5-figures, and hospitals like Ochsner getting their self-developed EHRs certified should pay a nominal fee if anything. By the way, kudos to Ochsner: imagine, developing a homegrown EHR with a few dozen programmers that passes the same test as giga-buck systems from vendors with thousands of employees - hats off to Lynn Witherspoon, CIO, MD!

Another improvement might be for CCHIT to publish a grade or score for each system they certify. They have some pretty stringent requirements I've heard, so their work is valuable to vet an EHR's functionality. To make a back-to-school analogy, instead of just giving a pass-fail grade, give an A through F or score systems on a 1 to 100 point scale. Now you could rank the vendors and only issue your RFP to the top 5 or so. Update the scores with each release and that would really be a helpful service! Wouldn't it be fascinating to see how high-end vendors like Allscripts compare to far more affordable eClinicalWorks? Or to see how high-end systems from GE and Eclipsys compare to small-hospital specialists like CPSI and Dairyland. Just how much more do you get for all that extra dough?