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HHS names first EHR certification bodies

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | August 31, 2010
First certified bodies named.
In a few weeks, sellers of electronic health record technology can have their products tested to see if they meet criteria to help doctors qualify for Medicare incentives.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services named a software testing lab and a health information technology nonprofit as the first "certified bodies."

The HHS said it tapped Drummond Group Inc., an Austin-based software testing group, and the Chicago-based Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, to be the first Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies.
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Doctors and hospitals angling for incentive payments, offered under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, must show they're "meaningful users" of EHR. And these EHRs must themselves be certified by an ONC-approved body that they can meet the criteria to support meaningful use, outlined this summer by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

CCHIT and Drummond will both launch their HHS-approved certification program Sept. 20, the groups said. A Drummond spokeswoman told DOTmed News it already had vendors lined up.

"We are pleased to offer [more than] 10 years of software testing and certification experience in other industries to health care," Drummond's CEO Rik Drummond said in a statement. "After executing several pilots on existing EHR products and working with industry consultants, our organization is more than prepared to test and certify health care products."

CCHIT has already been certifying EHR technology, through its own program, for the last four years, the company said.

"As the originator of EHR certification, CCHIT has tested and certified hundreds of EHRs," CCHIT chair Dr. Karen M. Bell said in a statement. "Our experience has enabled us to promptly adapt our processes to accommodate the certification and standards adopted by HHS to support the meaningful use of EHRs by health care providers."

CMS will eventually launch a website for providers to check which EHR products are certified, Dr. David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology, said in prepared remarks.