AHIMA: Leverage CCHIT for Interim Cert Program

AHIMA commented on ONC’s proposed temporary health IT certification program today, recommending in part that ONC leverage the existing CCHIT certification process as a bridge to the eventual permanent program.

With little time to get the temporary program running, AHIMA recommends that using the CCHIT certification process would “ease the transition, reduce confusion, and expedite the establishment of the permanent certification process.“

The certification program is central to the “meaningful use” EHR incentive program, which begins late this year. Participants in the voluntary program must use health IT that meets federally established criteria. In March ONC proposed a “temporary” program to help jumpstart the process, with a permanent program to come later.

Believing that the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology is certain to apply under both the temporary and permanent programs, AHIMA notes that “at least one strong certification body will exist during both the temporary and permanent certification programs.” That continuity will aid vendors and providers as the interim program transitions to the permanent one, the association states.

Among AHIMA’s other recommendations:

  • Replace the terms “temporary” and “permanent,” which may be misleading and confusing. AHIMA recommends referring to the “program for interim certification” and, once the interim program becomes permanent, simply the “certification program.”
  • Prioritize the certification of other types of health IT systems to ensure alignment with priorities for meaningful use. Pharmacy and laboratory systems, for example,  should be a high priority for HIT certification due to their direct relationship to meaningful use, quality, and patient safety initiatives, while other clinical systems can be certified in later years.
  • Require vendors of EHR modules to demonstrate, as part of certification, that certain core components can interoperate to support standardization, information exchange, and meaningful use. The proposed rule states only that eligible providers have the responsibility to ensure that the modules they choose work together properly.
  • Set a date for the temporary certification program to sunset in order to give the industry a target date for transition.

AHIMA will also comment on the proposed permanent certification program by the May 10 deadline.

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