The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) has announced that it has been named an authorized certification body (ONC-ACB) by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to certify electronic health records for the federal Permanent Certification Program for Health Information Technology.
CCHIT previously was an authorized testing and certification body (ONC-ATCB) for the Temporary Certification Program. On Oct. 4, the Permanent Certification Program will become effective and its name will change to the ONC HIT Certification Program.
The ONC HIT Certification Program will separate the testing and certifying of EHRs. CCHIT officials said that following its accreditation last month by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a certification body for the ONC HIT Certification Program, CCHIT applied to become an ONC-ACB. Also last month, CCHIT was named an Accredited Testing Laboratory (ATL) by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to test EHR technology.
When the ONC HIT Certification Program becomes effective, developers will first test their EHR technology with an ATL, and if their product meets the requirements as a complete EHR or EHR module, they can then apply to an ONC-ACB to certify the product, according to CCHIT officials in a press statement.
In addition to its certification program, CCHIT will also offer its test services to developers as an ATL. CCHIT’s accredited testing and authorized certification services will be available only for the ONC 2011 edition criteria until ONC makes available testing procedures for the 2014 Edition, according to CCHIT. Until the effective date of the new program, CCHIT will continue to offer testing and certification under its Temporary Certification Program authorization.
CCHIT’s testing and certification services will be extended to include the new ONC 2014 edition criteria as soon as ONC releases approved testing procedures. Test procedures are expected to be available at year’s end.
“This is a significant milestone for CCHIT’s ONC authorized certification program,” said Alisa Ray, CCHIT’s executive director. “We are eager to begin offering these services to both our commercial developer and provider clients.”
“While we must maintain a separation between testing and certification services even though we perform both, we believe our clients are best served when they choose to both test and certify in tandem programs,” Ray said. “There are potential savings in time, money and use of staff resources when they bundle these activities."
Ray said the Commission is updating its online client portal, The Source™, with new features that will allow clients to manage testing and certification in one place, and make it easier for them to manage future updates for both. "We plan to add additional features to support ONC 2014 edition testing when ONC makes that information available,” she said.
CCHIT has tested and certified almost 700 EHR products under the Temporary Certification Program, making it the ONC-ATCB most frequently selected by developers, according to CCHIT.
ONC’s certification programs were created to ensure that EHR technologies meet the adopted standards and certification criteria to help providers and hospitals achieve meaningful use objectives and qualify to receive Medicare incentive payments as authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).