Pass – Fail EHR Certification is Meaningless

The current pass fail EHR certification model just feels wrong. Everyone who submits to their tests passes. This gives doctors the impression that every EMR vendor that passes their certification has the same functions. Of course, we all know that this is just not the case. There are good and bad certified EHR.

Let me ask you this, why not just publish exactly which criteria passed/failed and possibly even some commentary on why they passed or failed. Then, the criteria could include things like growth charts. Most EHR would want to fail this one while every pediatric EHR would want to make sure it passed with flying colors. In fact, maybe it should not even be a pass/fail for the criteria, but a ranking from 1-10 on how well they implemented this feature.

The amazing thing that could happen with this type of criteria specific rating of EHR software is that doctors and practice managers would receive valuable information about an EHR software. In fact, this would actually engender some discussion and learning for the doctor interested in using the EHR.

I’m sure that some might argue that doctors and those looking for an EHR don’t want to spend all this time looking through a large set of criteria. However, this is where either a qualified consultant can step in and just provide them the specific results that are of interest to their clinic. At the end of the day, the doctor is getting ready to spend thousands of dollars on an EHR system that will be the heart of their practice.

If a doctor doesn’t want to spend the time researching such an expensive and important decision, then that’s their prerogative. However, I believe that many will do the research, but currently they have things like pass/fail criteria which give them a false sense of security when selecting an EHR.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Consumer Reports or any number of industry rags could already be ranking EMR’s from 1-10. Why does the government have to solve the problem at all?

    I work at a CCHIT certified EMR vendor, and I even built some of the CCHIT features in our product. We occasionally hear that we’re rated highly, or rated lowly, or rated average, or not rated at all. Most of the reports I have found comparing EMR vendors are produced for profit, and are sold to a consumer to read, instead of being released into the public domain so that they could use the information.

    Why is that?

  • AlleyGator,
    I don’t think I said that government had to do it. They’re the ones that passed the legislation saying they wanted to certify EHR in order to get HITECH act money.

    Certainly there are a number of private groups that do EHR ratings, but I have yet to see one (paid or otherwise) that goes into a detail rating with analysis of the rating. I’d love to know about one if one exists.

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