More low-cost EHRs certified

November 10, 2006

The government-backed Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) recently certified 11 EHRs that met its criteria for functionality, security, reliability, and interoperability. Including these products, CCHIT has now certified a total of 33 EHRs

The government-backed Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) recently certified 11 EHRs that met its criteria for functionality, security, reliability, and interoperability. Including these products, CCHIT has now certified a total of 33 EHRs.

Seven of the recently approved products are low-cost EHRs from smaller vendors, including those of ABELSoft, Acermed, Bond Technologies, CPSI, MediNotes, MedPlexus, and NetSmart. (The other newly certified EHRs are from Eclipsys, EHS, Greenway, and Noteworthy.) The certification of these products—and similar ones in the earlier round—counter claims by CCHIT critics that certification inevitably discriminates against small vendors and those that seek to enter the market with new products.

"If the small guys are passing the test, then CCHIT is really not pushing them out," says Mark Anderson, a health IT consultant. "The standards are not that high."

Even so, six vendors that applied for certification in August withdrew their application, postponed testing, or failed to demonstrate compliance with all of the CCHIT criteria. Anderson predicts that no more than 50 of the 300 EHR vendors will get their products certified, and he wonders whether that number will dwindle further when CCHIT toughens its certification requirements in coming years.

Other observers note that certification doesn't necessarily indicate how usable the products are.

"Some of the companies that have been certified were not around prior to certification, and have written software directly for certification," says Don Schoen, president of MediNotes, which has been selling EHRs for 10 years. "Doctors look at certification as a seal of approval. Yes, it's passed the test, but does it have the breadth and the experience behind it so a doctor can effectively use it at the point of care?"

Chittaranjan Mallipeddi, CEO of Medplexus, another recently certified vendor, agrees that certification says nothing about a product's "practical user interface." It's just a "framework" in which to choose an EHR, he says.