CCHIT Town Hall Meeting on Preliminary ARRA Certified EHR

I’ll be honest with you. For my own health I took off the last month from reading about CCHIT. I guess the birth of my third child made a difference as well. However, I’d been getting some comments and emails lately about CCHIT’s new certification programs and so I had to go and take a look at what was going on. Well, let’s just say that CCHIT has yet to disappoint me. They are so full of CCHIT that it’s not even funny. The conclusions they come to are crazy. Ok, now that I’ve made my bias clear, take a look at some of the things they’re saying.

One of CCHIT’s first conclusions made (in this blog post) after doing some polling at a CCHIT town hall meeting of vendors (mostly) is as follows:

Only a small fraction intend to wait until final ARRA certification is available. This appears to support our contention that we can’t afford to wait – products must be available, and providers must get started right away in order to have a chance of achieving meaningful use in 2011-2012.

I love how they switch the vendors desire to get the preliminary ARRA certification with a providers desire to have the same. Of course, EMR vendors want to be able to say that they are ARRA certified. EMR vendors (most) aren’t selling product right now and so they want anything they can get that will help convince providers to actually buy product instead of waiting for all the ARRA certification details. This is a vendor desire. It’s not a provider desire. Providers want HHS to move faster with their HHS Certification details.

Now on to what Mark Leavitt calls the “bottom line:”

What’s the bottom line? Well, it looks like these new programs have a good chance of delivering what is needed from certification to support an accelerated adoption of health IT in the ARRA environment.

I really don’t get how they draw these conclusions. The town hall meeting showed that EHR vendors have an interest in becoming certified. I didn’t need to have a meeting for that. I just needed to dangle $36 billion of stimulus money and say you have to be EHR certified to know that many EHR vendors will want to get certified.

It also might be probably is true that $36 billion of stimulus money will accelerate EHR adoption. However, there’s no proof that CCHIT certification or HHS certification or any EHR certification for that matter will actually accelerate adoption or the more important goal of successful adoption of EMR software.

Here’s a link to the best chart from the CCHIT town hall meeting with vendors. What that chart tells me is that 60% of those attending only really want certification to get the ARRA stimulus money. 24% of the EMR vendors don’t know the difference between the CCHIT Certified and the Preliminary ARRA Certified and so they don’t know what they want. That leaves about 16% (probably those who are already CCHIT Certified) that want the full CCHIT Certified. Sounds right. Most EHR vendors just want to find a way to sell more product and get access to the EHR stimulus money, right?

Point being. Let’s not kid ourselves about what CCHIT is really trying to accomplish. The results from the polls on the CCHIT blog post describe well that CCHIT is about the EHR vendor and not the doctors, clinical practices, or improving the quality of healthcare.

That feels better. Now I better write my post about the difference between CCHIT Certified and Preliminary ARRA Certified and the road map ahead for CCHIT. I’ll post that tomorrow.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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.


  • I read your blog stating that CCHIT lost their 501c3 where do you get yor info from I checked with them and they sent me validation Who do you work for? CCHIT is a good organization who else certifies software? next time publish the truth abd leave the scare tactics to the republicans

  • Hi W Burgett,
    I think it’s interesting that you come 6 months or more later to talk about my post about CCHIT’s 501c3 status. You might want to go check the history of CCHIT and what did happen. It was due to post like mine online which opened CCHIT to actually ensure that they were in good standing with their 501c3 status and other important issues related to CCHIT’s independence from such organizations as HIMSS.

    My day job is with a clinic which actually (coincidentally) has a CCHIT certified EHR. However, we don’t really care either way. We don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid and so CCHIT doesn’t matter to me and my day job. You can read more about my lack of financial ties to CCHIT:

    I’m not sure why you consider CCHIT a good organization. Maybe you could provide a list of items that make CCHIT a good organization. What have they done for doctors or patients? I see that you’re an EMR vendor so maybe it is a good organization for you. Although, the $30k or so that you spent on CCHIT certification and untold costs developing the CCHIT criteria kind of makes you biased in your opinion no?

    There aren’t other people certifying EHR software. Why? Because there’s been no proof that certifying EHR software actually provides value to doctors or patients. In fact, there is some evidence that it actually might hurt it.

    Glad to see you’re concerned about the truth since that’s what we offer. We’re not perfect, but despite what CCHIT might be able to show you now, there were definitely issues in the past that they had to resolve.

    No scare tactics here. Just honest talk which some people don’t like to hear, but many many others really appreciate.

  • John:

    I share your skepticism about recent developments at CCHIT.

    Let me add that CCHIT has no experience promulgating results-oriented certification criteria of the sort ONC will soon approve for “meaningful use,” and no experience certifying EHRs against such criteria.

    And although it’s highly likely, it’s not even a sure thing yet that ONC will authorize CCHIT to serve as a certifying entity under HITECH.

    Presumably CCHIT, like other prospective certifying agencies, will have to meet criteria (not yet released) and thereby demonstrate it can perform this new task.

    Unfortunately, as long as CCHIT is “the only game in town,” they are able to create fear and confusion in the marketplace. We hope ONC moves quickly to designate alternative certifying entities.

    Glenn Laffel, MD PhD
    Sr VP Clinical Affairs
    Practice Fusion
    Free Web-based EHR

  • Then who you recommend? CCHIT is the only certifing body available. I sell and install all CHITT certified software. They were the first who is their replacement for certification or are we just mad that they charge a fee for certification I am not happy that they are charging this fee also.

  • I think CCHIT is to EMR somewhat like W3C is to web standards — a large bureaucratic non-profit organization whose main purpose is to perpetuate itself, not to actively pursue the function for which it was created; and which largely just hinders real reform.

    I came across this 5/29/09 Adam Bosworth posting, which I thought accurately described the direction EMRs should be heading …

  • Glenn,
    I agree. HHS needs to move to get the other options out there.

    W Burgett,
    I recommend that EHR vendors create a software that provides doctors increased productivity and improve their lives. If they do that, they’ll sell plenty of EHR and adoption rates will be high. There are a number of them out there, but the bad ones have created such a horrible image for the others that it’s hard. One might argue that CCHIT perpetuates this clunky unusable EHR systems which hurt EHR adoption more than it helps.

    I actually have a post coming out on Monday that talks more about the costs of the CCHIT certifications as well as a discussion of future EHR certifications. You’ll enjoy that one;-)

    David, nice description. W3C is a good example of CCHIT, except I think CCHIT has a lot more big vendor support than W3C. Although, I don’t know W3C really well.

    I like the Adam Bosworth link. I’m going to have to find time to read more of his stuff.

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