Mar 15

CCHIT Warns Certification Plan Might Backfire

CCHIT Warns Certification plan might backfire By Mary Mosquera

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) said it believes the Interim Final Rule (IFR) on standards and certification might cause “unintended deceleration in the pace of adoption.”

In comments filed March 12 to the Office of the National Coordinator, CCHIT said the IFR — the administration’s proposal for EHR standards and certification – drops some standards that were already widely adopted yet introduces other criteria that require an “unrealistic leap forward.”

“We believe the criteria and standards need refinement in order to drive an achievable step forward in the meaningful use of EHRs,” said Dr. Mark Leavitt, outgoing CCHIT chair of CCHIT, which since 2006 has been the only official certifier of EHRs.

As written, CCHIT is “concerned about the possibility of an unintended deceleration in the pace of EHR adoption,” Leavitt said.

For instance, widely supported standards already exist for receiving electronic lab results in a provider’s office and for exchanging clinical summaries.

“Yet under the IFR, that standard for receiving laboratory results, and the specific implementation guidance for exchanging clinical data, have been dropped,” CCHIT said in its comments, adding, “where one standard was previously recognized for clinical data exchange, the IFR offers two different, incompatible standards.”

Some IFR criteria define required functions of an EHR too microscopically, adding unnecessary costs and complexity, and creating barriers to innovation. Other criteria are too vague to be reliably verified in a testing process, CCHIT said.

“A particular concern surrounds the reporting of quality measures, with the IFR calling for standards and measures that are yet to be defined or that require significant revision to make them computable from EHR-based data,” CCHIT said in its comments.

CCHIT said it has the most extensive experience developing voluntary, consensus-based EHR certification criteria and test processes, and inspecting and certifying EHRs against federally-recognized standards.

The group also said that under the IFR, a complete EHR includes administrative and billing functions. That will cause the unnecessary certification of already-installed billing systems for every physician and hospital seeking to qualify for the meaningful use incentives, it said.

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