Preliminary ARRA Certified and CCHIT Certified

As promised, here’s my look into the two certifications that CCHIT is currently pursuing. I got most of the details of what they’re talking about from this CCHIT presentation. Basically, CCHIT plans to offer two forms of EHR certification starting October 7, 2009: CCHIT Certified 2011 and Preliminary ARRA 2011.

CCHIT Certified 2011 is basically just a continuation of the certification that they’ve been doing for a number of years now. I won’t go into all the details about why this is a waste of money, development time and provides no improvement an EMR implementation success rates, but a quick search through my posts on CCHIT will be good place to start if you’re interested. Of course, the one difference between the 2011 CCHIT EHR certification is that they’ve tried to add all the other necessary requirements to meet ARRA’s certified EHR requirements.

Preliminary ARRA 2011 – Basically, this is CCHIT’s attempt to certify just the meaningful use requirements. They’ve broken it down into 21 meaningful use components with about 100 requirements (as best I can tell). CCHIT’s plan is for this certification will become the ARRA EHR certification program that will be eventually recognized by HHS.

Now let’s take a look at the timeline for each of these EHR certifications:

September 24, 2009 – CCHIT publishes certification criteria and test scripts for both CCHIT Certified 2011 and Preliminary ARRA 2011

October 7, 2009 – CCHIT starts accepting applications for both certifications

Spring 2010 – CMS publishes final rule

Spring 2010 (after CMS rule published) – CCHIT offers incremental testing for both EHR certifications to cover any gaps between the certification criteria published on September 24, 2009 and the final rule published by CMS. At this time CCHIT will also introduce the site certification option (this could be really interesting).

Now the question is which of the two EHR certifications you should consider or should you not worry about any of the above certifications? Unfortunately, I can’t really answer that question properly until we talk about the money involved in getting the above EHR certifications. I’ll cover that in a post on Monday.

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.


  • John, great summary.

    My 2 takeaways are the phrase to “justify meaningful use”, and the question about whether anyone should worry about any of this. Meaning no slight to those working on this, I think that with each new bit of information on Cert & Meaningful Use, the less likely it is that either will be relevant.

    A word to healthcare providers who are implementing EHR. Do not use these benchmarks as your guidelines. Do not use ARRA as a business reason to implement an EHR. If you make an EHR decision as though Washington played no role in the decision, and make your selection of an EHR based on your actual business requirements, Certification and Meaningful Use will not matter.

    I believe we will learn that the only test that will matter is interoperability. The sooner we learn that under the present framework interoperability can’t happen, the sooner we will get to a solution that will work.

  • I agree with you in substance Paul. Meaningful use won’t improve outcomes. Doctors should select an EMR based on factors other than stimulus money (which implies not worrying about certification or meaningful use). In fact, I’ve said that many times.

    The one thing I do disagree is that despite my above opinions, many many people will end up basing their decision on the EHR stimulus money, meaningful use and certified EHR. So, those things will matter A LOT.

  • Thank John. Forgive me as I do not intend to be flippant as the tone of this remark is about the ‘many people.

    Many people buy a painting because they think it goes good with the ugly couch in their living room. That doesn’t mean they made a good choice, it means they bought an ugly painting (and an ugly couch).

    80% of IT projects over $10 MM fail. I believe EHR will pass that mark. I’m sure you know they fail in part due yo poor planning. How much poorer can the planning be than to buy an application to hit targets which in all likelihood will disappear, or to not even define your own business requirements and think it’s all about the stimulus money.

    One hospital spent $400M on EHR. For them, the stimulus money is a rounding error.

  • I like the ugly painting analogy. The problem is that rarely will they admit that they bought an ugly painting. We need more people to be honest about the ugly painting that they bought so that others don’t do the same.

    I agree with your targets suggestion. The meaningful use targets will go away and most people won’t care.

    Of course, it’s a bit different analysis for a hospital versus a small ambulatory clinic. The factors are the same, but in much different sizes.

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