The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) was an independent, not-for-profit group focused on advancing health information technology. Its goal was to create credible, efficient, and sustainable certification programs for electronic health records (EHRs) and the networks they use.
Approved by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the CCHIT has operated as a technology certification body since 2006. Since then, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has named the CCHIT an authorized testing and certification body.
While the CCHIT offers government-regulated certifications, it also features its own additional certification program. The CCHIT Certified program was developed independently based on consensus findings from its broad group of stakeholders. By finding what health care professionals, vendors, and Health IT purchasers require, the CCHIT can best regulate certifications to fit the needs of a growing marketplace.
Goals that the CCHIT aimed to achieve include:
- Reducing the risk involved with Health IT investments by healthcare providers
- Assuring compatibility of Health IT products across many systems and networks
- Ensuring care providers receive financial incentives for the upkeep offers
- Securing the privacy of patients’ personal health records
The CCHIT and its methods for certification are designed to present full transparency to health care providers, vendors, patients, and others who manage or produce Health IT technology. The CCHIT relies heavily on the input from its stakeholders or other volunteers who wish to improve the technology currently in use.
By creating a trusted certification process, the CCHIT handled the qualification of Health IT products, while policymakers can shift their focus to designing policies and incentives that will benefit the health care system as a whole.
CCHIT ceased all operations in 2014.
What did certification require?
With its creation, the CCHIT widened the access to Health IT programs and products by offering new means of gaining certification. By doing so, the hope was that new methods would bring about more Health IT availability, promote innovation, and help meet the needs of health care providers with varying degrees of technology capabilities and preparedness.
These different methods are:
With the CCHIT holding status as both an Accredited Testing Lab and an ONC Authorized Certification Body, they were able to certify both complete EHRs and EHR modules. With this certification, providers can receive incentive payments stemming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 if they show meaningful use of the technology.
EHR Alternative Certification
This tailored program assesses the customized EHR technology already installed at health care provider locations. The technology is required to meet the same federal standards as commercial products. This way, providers who create and develop their own technologies can still qualify for the ARRA incentives and are both rewarded and encouraged for innovation.
Health Information Exchange (HIE) Compliance Testing Program:
The CCHIT was called on by more than 16 states, 40 technology vendors, and 34 HIEs – which represent more than half of the U.S. population – to produce an automatic testing program to ensure that systems and networks are able to share information across organizational and state boundaries in a safe, secure manner.
Health IT framework for accountable care organizations
This certification determines whether or not the health care provider has the proper Health IT infrastructure needed to work as an accountable care organization. It also helps recognize any deficiencies in that infrastructure that would stop providers from being effective.
CCHIT Certified program
This program primarily caters to Health IT products that don’t immediately qualify for the ONC-authorized certification, such as emergency department or behavioral health EHRs. However, it is possible for products to gain certification under both ONC and CCHIT standards.
What Does Certification Require?
The CCHIT offered certification based on the functionality, compatibility, and security of an EHR product. All three areas feature different standards and criteria that must be met.
Very simply, EHR products need to offer every capability that a doctor needs to manage their patient’s health care in an efficient, quality, and safe manner in an electronic format.
Some of the broad functionality criteria are:
- Organizing data – compiling the patient’s medical history, including clinical documents or lab results, as well as any medication or allergies
- Receiving and showing information – the ability to receive and gather information from sources outside the practice
- Making orders – ordering medication or other diagnostic tests
- Managing workflow – scheduling clinical tasks, managing medication intake, communicating with pharmacies for patient prescriptions
- Authorized sharing – managing relations with patients, maintaining privacy, coordinating with other health care providers for the betterment of the patient
- Administrative and billing support – assisting with financial aid and insurance coverage
Patients value the privacy of their medical history, and each EHR technology needs the ability to maintain proper security standards.
These criteria are:
- User authentication
- Access restricted to the user’s role or contest of care situation
- Auditing access and use of records
- Encrypting data sent out of the network
- Virus and malware protection
- Data backup in case of computer loss or compromise
With the advancing and changing of technology on a daily basis, it’s important for EHR products to meet a base of standards to send and receive medical data, as well as be able to adapt and update when necessary.
Some broad areas of required compatibility are:
- Laboratory results – the ability to receive and file lab results, whether it’s preliminary or a final test, as well as process those results. The capability to view x-ray images is also needed.
- Electronic prescribing – maintain federal standards for sending new prescriptions, authorizing refills, ensuring that the medication is available, checking the patient’s eligibility for said medication, and receiving medication history from the pharmacy.
- Exchanging summary documents – sending and receiving patient medical summaries from outside systems or networks
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