ONC Names First Meaningful-use EHR Certification Bodies

The Office of the National Coordinator announced the first organizations authorized to test and certify EHR systems for use in the federal “meaningful use” incentive program.

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), based in Chicago, and the Drummond Group, based in Austin, TX, are the first groups to be awarded status as ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies.

CCHIT and Drummond will test and certify EHR systems for compliance with the meaningful use standards and certification criteria established by Health and Human Services in a final rule issued July 28. Physicians and hospitals that participate in the voluntary program must use an EHR system that has been certified by an ONC-ATCB.

While CCHIT has certified EHRs under its own criteria for several years, vendors must reapply for certification by CCHIT or Drummond Group if they want their products to qualify for the meaningful use program.

Vendors can immediately begin applying for certification of their products, said David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, in a press release.

“This is a critical step because it ensures that certified EHR products will be available to support the achievement of the required meaningful use objectives, that these products will be aligned with one another on key standards, and that doctors and hospitals can invest with confidence in these certified systems,” Blumenthal said.

CCHIT plans to launch its authorized HHS certification program on September 20 with a Web-cast describing its application and testing process. It will accept applications immediately after, and it expects to announce the first group of certified products within weeks of that launch.

Drummond expects to announce its plans August 31.

Additional certification entities could still be announced. HHS said that applications from additional organizations are under review.

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