CCHIT to Expand Electronic Health Record Certification to Some Specialties

CHICAGO — November 28, 2006 — The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHITSM) announced today that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has authorized and funded the Commission to expand its certification scope of work for ambulatory electronic health record (EHR) products to begin addressing some medical specialties and specialized care settings.

“Expanding the use of certified electronic health records for different specialties within the health care community means more patients will have access to better quality care at better value,” said Robert Kolodner, M.D., interim National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, HHS. “This expansion of the certification process will lead to significant improvements in the quality of individual’s healthcare and the overall health of the population.”

During the development of its first generation Criteria and Inspection Process for Ambulatory EHRs, CCHIT received comments from practitioners and vendors in various medical specialties and practice settings eager to have their requirements addressed more specifically than was possible with the broad first generation criteria. Issues raised include the clinical scenarios used in testing; criteria that might not be appropriate in certain settings; and the need for additional criteria beyond the broad basic set in others. In addition, some settings have unique workflows.

“With the phenomenal contributions of our volunteers and a broad group of stakeholders, CCHIT has developed an excellent set of basic criteria for ambulatory EHRs. Now we’ll make certification even more valuable by starting to differentiate according to the needs of specialized disciplines and settings,” said Mark Leavitt, M.D., Ph.D., chair, CCHIT. Leavitt added, “We can only tackle two or three specialized areas during this next year, but these will pave the way to do even more in the future.”

CCHIT will begin by establishing a fair and objective process for prioritizing which specialties should be addressed first. Factors in this prioritization will include the amount of criteria development work required, the readiness of the specialty to participate in development, and the potential positive impact certification could have on EHR adoption in the specialty.

An environmental scan to gather this information will begin immediately with the goal of reporting results to the Commission at its January meeting. CCHIT will encourage the engagement of specialty societies as work begins. CCHIT will also communicate its progress through its web site,, in CCHIT eNews and in a Town Call to be held on December 11 at 2:00 PM Eastern time. Details of the call will be available on the CCHIT web site.

The Certification Committee for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHITSM), founded in 2004, is an independent, nonprofit organization. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption of robust, interoperable health information technology by creating an efficient, credible and sustainable product certification program. CCHIT accomplishes its work through contributions of hundreds of expert volunteers and constructive engagement by stakeholders throughout the health care industry. In September 2005, CCHIT was awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop, create prototypes for, and evaluate the certification criteria and inspection process for EHRs and the networks through which they interoperate. In October 2006, CCHIT was deemed a Recognized Certification Body by the Department of Health and Human Services. More information on CCHIT and CCHIT CertifiedSM products is available at