US unveils first EHR certifications

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcedthe first 20 EHR products to be certified as meetingnational standards for functionality, interoperability andsecurity.

The products, designed to be used in doctor’s offices, werecertified by the Commission for Healthcare InformationTechnology.

That commission was created in 2004 by three industry groups asa voluntary, private-sector organization to certify health information technology products.

The certification program aims to reduce physicians’ risks inmaking health IT investments, ensure theinteroperability of products and protect the privacy of patientinformation.

HHS secretary Mike Leavitt said the certification process meansthat “the possibility of doctors making a mistake in purchasing asystem would be drastically reduced.”

He also noted that the federal government — the largestpurchaser of health care in the country — will make the use ofcertified systems “a condition of doing business” with U.S.agencies over time.

“We’re quickly reaching the day when we no longer have to talkabout why health IT is important,” Leavitt said. “We do need tokeep talking about the importance of interoperability.”

Vendors whose ambulatory EHR products received certificationinclude Allscripts LLC, Cerner Corp., eClinicalWorks, Epic SystemsCorp., GE Healthcare, McKesson Corp. and Misys HealthcareSystems.

Commission Chairman Mark Leavitt, who is not related to the HHSsecretary, said that the products had to meet all of the 250criteria established for functionality. Although he declined to saywhether any products submitted for testing failed certification,Leavitt did say that more than 24 sought certification.

With 20 now certified, tests still are under way on some of theother submissions, he said.

The certification is valid for three years, he said. After that,the companies will need to reapply for certification.

The Commission for Healthcare Information Technology expects toannounce more product certifications by the end of the month andevery quarter after that. Next year, it plans to announce productsthat have been certified for use by hospitals and large healthsystems.

A complete list of the products that have been certified isavailable online.

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