Aug. 17, 2009
Policy Committee OKs Plan To Establish Multiple EHR Certifiers
On Friday, the [HHS] Health IT Policy Committee adopted recommendations that called for multiple entities to certify electronic health record systems, Health Data Management reports.
The committee's certification and adoption work group issued the recommendations (Goedert , Health Data Management , 8/14).
To receive official certification, EHR systems must meet a minimum set of criteria and achieve the "meaningful use" objectives of the federal economic stimulus package. Under the stimulus law, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs will receive Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments (O'Harrow, Washington Post , 8/15).
The work group recommended that:
* Certification criteria allow for open-source software;
* Certification processes should let health care organizations qualify for EHR subsidies under Stark Law exceptions that allow organizations to subsidize the cost of EHRs for physicians;
* Certification should last for four years;
* Multiple groups perform HHS certification under a single set of criteria;
* The National Institute for Standards and Technology should participate in accreditation and certification decisions;
* The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT should define certification criteria;
* ONC should create an accreditation process for certification groups;
* Officials develop alternative certification processes for self-developed software; and
* Vendors are required to receive certification from only one group ( Health Data Management , 8/14).
The work group said it envisions the establishment of 10 to 12 different EHR certification groups, in addition to the Certification Commission for Health IT (Manos, Healthcare IT News , 8/14).
The recommendations now go to HHS for consideration ( Health Data Management, 8/14).
The workgroup said CCHIT is too closely aligned with the health IT industry, noted that the industry trade group HIMSS helped found CCHIT, and noted that CCHIT's members includes several people with ties to HIMSS and health IT companies. They were clearly uncomfortable with the potential conflicts of interest, especially if CCHIT gained sole responsibility for HIT "certification." [A term I put in quotes since it really is "features qualification" at this point, not certification such as a physician receives after passing Specialty Boards - ed.]
Having been on the receiving end of CCHIT bullying myself ("Open letter to Mark Leavitt, Chairman, Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology on Penalties For Use of Non-Certified HIT"), it's clear most Americans don't like bullies, especially bullying from powerful lobbying organizations such as HIMSS and its progeny. (It's also become clear they don't like 1000+ page healthcare reform plans shoved, unread, down their throats by political bullies.)
By the way, since the July 21, 2009 publication of my JAMA letter "Health Care Information Technology, Hospital Responsibilities, and Joint Commission Standards" and Koppel and Kreda's reply, pointing out the terrible situation that HIT "defects nondisclosure" and "hold harmless" clauses create for hospital executives, physicians and patients, I have heard from the Joint Commission, but not from HIMSS.
Perhaps HIMSS leadership believes I have nothing worthy to add to the discussion. (Perhaps another 'Open Letter' is called for.)