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ONC names first certifiers of EHR systems and technology

By Andrea Kraynak, CPC

The Chicago-based Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), and the Drummond Group Inc. (DGI) of Austin, TX are the first official certifiers of EHR technology, HHS announced August 30 [1].

Healthcare providers and vendors can begin to seek certification for their EHR systems and technologies now that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has named the first two authorized testing and certification bodies (ATCB). Providers must be using certified EHR technology to qualify for meaningful use incentive payments.

“Less than two months following the issuance of final meaningful use rules, we have approved our initial ONC-ATCB certifiers. EHR vendors can begin immediately to get their products certified.” David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for Health Information Technology, said in the press release. “This is a crucial step because it ensures that certified EHR products will be available to support the achievement of the required meaningful use objectives, that these products will be aligned with one another on key standards, and that doctors and hospitals can invest with confidence in these certified systems.”

Additional ATCBs may still be named, but in the meantime, the industry can begin lining up to have their EHRs tested and hopefully certified in time for the first round of incentive payments targeted for May 2011. Naming the bodies is one step, Blumenthal said. But actually certifying multiple vendors’ systems is another. He notes, however, that the health IT initiative “is on an aggressive schedule to meet the urgent targets set by Congress and the President.”

In the meantime, CMS is creating an online system for providers to register and attest to meaningful use for qualify for the programs, according to the press release.

To learn more about the initial ONC-ATCBs, visit their websites at www.cchit.org [2] and www.drummondgroup.com [3]. More information on the EHR incentive program is available at http://healthit.hhs.gov/certification [4].