The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) was founded as a voluntary, private-sector organization, and it developed the first comprehensive definition of the capabilities needed in electronic health care record programs.

Certification criteria were established using a consensus-based approach with CCHIT stakeholders, most of which were physicians, hospitals, health agencies, vendors, and healthcare consumers.

By going straight to the people who would benefit the most and finding what methods would best improve health care technology, the Certification Commission has been able to make direct, immediate changes based on its findings.

How It Began

The CCHIT was founded in 2004 by three industry-leading health care information management and technology associations – the American Health Information Management Association, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and The National Alliance for Health Information Technology.

A year after it was formed, the CCHIT was awarded a three-year contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help develop a nationwide health information network. The CCHIT’s task was to assess the certification method and examination process for electronic health record vendors and find ways to help streamline the process and make the information more readily available for everyone.

The CCHIT began creating electronic health care record certification programs in 2006 under the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and is recognized as a certifying body by the U.S. government.

What Did The CCHIT Change?

When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in 2009 to help stimulate the economy, the importance of health information technology was a big part of the bill. With technology becoming such a major part of everyday life, the integration of Health IT came to the forefront of discussions. By offering financial incentives for health care providers who meet the “meaningful use” definition of electronic health records, Health IT only grew.

Meaningful use” essentially means doctors and hospitals must use various aspects of electronic health records and meet a minimum percentage of usage in order to gain financial incentives.

By the middle of 2009, CCHIT had certified more than 200 electronic health record programs, and certified products made up more than 75 percent of the marketplace.

Some areas where the CCHIT helped advance certification include:

  • Ambulatory electric health records for office-based physicians
  • Inpatient electric health records for hospitals and health care systems
  • Health networks where the information is shared
  • Developing personal health records for patients to manage their own health information

What Has The CCHIT Accomplished?

By setting a precedent for electronic health record certification, the CCHIT has been able to set the standard for Health IT moving into the future.  With technology becoming such a huge part of life, it’s important that the health care system follow suit. With better communication and a core set of standards, the CCHIT has helped ensure health care professionals and their patients will only benefit.