The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology has unveiled an initial list of 22 ambulatory electronic health record products that meet its standards for functionality, interoperability, and security.
CCHIT was formed in 2004 by three leading health IT management and technology industry associations. Since last fall, CCHIT has been under contract to the federal government to develop certification criteria for EHRs and evaluate products. The CCHIT process has also been endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In this first round, CCHIT officials gave their seal of approval to 22 products that met all certification standards. Going forward, CCHIT officials will evaluate ambulatory EHR products on a quarterly basis, and are expected to make the next announcement about newly certified EHR systems in late October. In the meantime, the group will begin work on certification for inpatient EHRs and for the network systems that support information exchange between physicians and health care institutions.
The certified products are designed to serve the spectrum of physician practices, Dr. Mark Leavitt, CCHIT chair, said during a press conference. Vendors whose products were certified in this first round received a CCHIT seal of approval that the product met 2006 standards, Dr. Leavitt said. That certification is good for up to 3 years or vendors can come back to CCHIT each year to be certified under the updated standards, he said.
This year's standards included some baseline interoperability functionality related to receiving lab results, but the bulk of the interoperability criteria will be applied starting next year, once standards in this area have been harmonized, he said.
“This certification process provides folks with a short list, if you will,” Dr. Michael S. Barr, vice president of practice advocacy and improvement at the American College of Physicians, said in an interview.
Having a list of certified products reduces some of the risk for physicians buying EHR systems, Dr. Barr said. But it does not mean that physicians shouldn't do their homework when it comes to buying a system, since every practice will be looking for different types of functionality, he said.
Leaders in health IT are quickly approaching the time when they will no longer have to sell people on the benefits of EHRs, he said, but there is a need to continue to talk about the importance of the interoperability of these systems.
The full list of certified products is available at www.cchit.org/certified/2006/CCHIT+Certified+Products+by+Product.htm