CCHIT Proposes Expansion, Leaving Some Vendors Crying Foul

Kathryn Mackenzie, for HealthLeaders Media , January 27, 2009

"The people who are subsidizing EMRs or reimbursing providers are looking to drive them toward automation in their offices, and therefore financial incentives or the requirements that those organizations put on physicians are increasingly going to favor CCHIT-certified EMRs because it's easier to take a quick swipe at the market and lop off anything that isn't CCHIT certified," says Don Fornes, CEO of Software Advice, a consulting firm that offers advice to organizations looking to buy new software. "If you know that a CCHIT-certified EMR is absolutely going to give you a certain set of functionality and interoperability that you need, that's extremely useful."

For me, the whole "controversy" seems pretty cut and dry. At a time when very few people have money to spare, deciding to make an investment of this magnitude cannot be taken lightly. And I, as a tried and true consumer, would most certainly be looking for system that has all the stamps of approval. CCHIT is a private, nonprofit initiative whose stated mission is to "accelerate the adoption of robust, interoperable health information technology by creating a credible, efficient certification process." It's not as if the group is looking to make millions by fleecing small vendors through the certification process. Not only that, but all of the new EHR legislation being drafted at the federal level includes money to help stimulate the adoption of EHRs and all of that legislation requires that the EHRs be CCHIT certified, according to Leavitt.

As Gregory Spencer, MD, an internist and CMIO at Crystal Run Healthcare in Wallkill, NY, told me, "It's unbelievably helpful to have third party out there kicking the tires for you. People in the market need a product that they know matches what vendor tells them the capabilities are. We have that assurance. We know we are going to get a certain amount of capability if the vendor has been certified," he says. With three-quarters of the EHR market represented by vendors who have CCHIT certified products, it's looking like those vendors who don't want to or can't pay to get certified are going to have two choices: take a major hit in sales or be swallowed up by a bigger, CCHIT certified company.

Kathryn Mackenzie is technology editor of HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at
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