New EHR Certifying Body – Drummond Group

I’ve had real problems with the idea of there only being one EHR certifying body for a while now. I think competition usually brings the best out of organizations and forces them to be better than they would have been had there been no competition. Plus, it usually brings the price of things down also.

With that background, I was very happy to see that Drummond Group Plans to Certify EHR software as well. One of the comments on this blog pointed this group out to me and I’m very happy to see that they’re planning to enter the EHR Certification fray. Here’s a short quote from their press release:

Drummond Group has been approached recently by numerous EHR software and services companies that need to be certified.

“Clearly there is a growing demand for EHR certifications, says Rik Drummond, CEO of Drummond Group. “Drummond Group has been supporting Fortune 500 industries and government by certifying the transfer, identity and cybersecurity of their internet information flow over the last ten years. We have also done testing for the CDC, DEA and GSA. Certification of EHR is a natural extension of our testing program, and we believe we can provide great value for the medical community. We look forward to the publishing of the ONC requirements in the days ahead so we can get started.”

This is very good news!

I contacted Drummond Group to try and get an idea of how much the Drummond Group EHR certification might cost. As expected, there answer was that they’d be waiting for the ONC certification criteria before determining the cost and “what” to certify. So, we’ll have to wait to compare Drummond’s EHR certification costs with CCHIT’s EHR certification costs.

I also asked them whether they thought they would continue EHR certification after the EHR stimulus money runs out. Here was their quick response:

We would plan to continue if the users were happy with the certification after the stimulus money is gone…we have tested one standard for over 9 years without stimulus funds. In that case, the users still find great value in certified interoperable products and the numbers continue to grow in adoption. The vendors view Interoperability Certification as two things:
The certification seal adds marketing recognition and the testing is considered an extension of their
own Quality Assurance testing that they could not create internally on their own. It’s a win-win.

If they do decide to continue certifying EHR, I hope they will focus on interoperability certification. That could be beneficial and what I think the EHR stimulus money should have been spent on in the first place.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.

12 Comments

  • John:

    I wasn’t sure what you were driving at by asking Drummond whether it would continue certifying EHRs “once the EHR stimulus money runs out.”

    It’s EHR vendors after all (not providers) that pay to have their wares certified…and presumably this represents recurring revenue for certifying agencies since the vendors will, in all likelihood, have to be recertified at least every few years going forward forever…just like the way JCAHO does it for hospitals, and NCQA does for managed care organizations.

    Thanks,
    Glenn Laffel, MD, PhD
    Sr VP Clinical Affairs
    Practice Fusion
    http://www.practicefusion.com
    Free, Web-based EHR

  • Why will EHR vendors have to be recertified every few years going forward? I guess they could have legislation that extends Medicare penalties for those not using a “certified EHR.” I think you could also make the case that it’s good for an EHR vendors marketing plans to say that they’re are “certified,” but if the market determines that certification is useless other than to get the EHR stimulus money, then why would they continue certifying?

  • These are excellent thoughts, John.

    Right now, EHR vendors, many of them, get certified and have been doing so for years…even though providers have not been driven by bonus incentives to purchase a certified EHR. Why is this? My guess is that, b/c the EHR purchasing decision is so complex, providers are looking for some help in making their decision, and have used the CCHIT certification “badge” as a proxy for good quality. That kind of thinking is likely to continue, I suggest.

    Beyond this, from a pragmatic standpoint I would add that once regulations like this are established and implemented, they take on a life of their own it’s not that easy to stop them…

    But I see your points and they are excellent. Time will tell.

    Thanks,
    Glenn

  • It’s likely the optimist in me that those selecting an EHR will wise up to the fact that EHR certification doesn’t add any benefit to them as a user of that EHR system. No doubt the CCHIT badge has provided many that feeling despite there not being any evidence that the CCHIT badge means you’re more likely to have a successful EMR implementation. In fact, there’s some empirical evidence that CCHIT EHR vendors might have a higher failure rate.

    All of this said, I discussed with someone today that if we could find a way to “certify” (identify ) EHR software in a way that will improve the EHR implementation success rate, then we’ll be on to something special. Not to mention be extremely beneficial to those selecting an EHR.

  • John: this is great news. Competition is generally good for the consumer, so hopefully certification prices will go down. In turn, the vendors would hopefully charge doctors less for certified software.

    Having said that, I still think certification is not the most important thing that will guarantee success for an end-user. At least, the certifications in current form focus too much on the very advanced features, or interoperability, or data security. These are important factors, but end-users are probably more concerned about usability.

    At least someone needs to start evaluating software on the basis of usability. Since usability is a pretty subjective notion, a volunteer group of practitioners should get together and offer “reviews” of the software. These should be real practicing doctors too because a lot of the times vendors pretend to be doctors on a lot online forums. I guess that if it ever happens, the evaluation should take place in a public event.

    There are some events like this that evaluate EMRs on certain criteria but they are very commercial (sorry I’m forgetting the name right now).

  • “I still think certification is not the most important thing that will guarantee success for an end-user.”

    Nope, but EHR certification matters thanks to $18 billion of EHR stimulus money.

    “There are some events like this that evaluate EMRs on certain criteria but they are very commercial (sorry I’m forgetting the name right now).”

    I think you’re talking about KLAS. I’ve been wondering about the best way to implement an independent review of systems that would work. I agree that it could be very valuable to doctors, but I’m not sure the right model to make it worth our time to do it.

  • Yes! KLAS is the one I was talking about.

    As far as that review thing is concerned, one idea would be to charge vendors a small fee for participation. It will be sort of like a contest: see who has the most user-friendly EMR as evaluated by these 10 doctors. That fee you charge the vendors could be used to pay for renting the venue and paying for transport and lodging of volunteer docs. But you will have to make sure that doctors are not affiliated with a particular EMR. The evaluation could also be done by doctors who have never used an EMR before. To add a further twist, the evaluators and the ones facilitating the evaluation would not know which vendor they are evaluating, only numbers like EMR 1, EMR 2 etc. and the names revealed after results are published.

    I guess if we can find a few like minded people we can get this to work.

  • Jawad,
    Maybe we should do something like this at HIMSS. Are you going? It could be fun to host a little side event where a number of “experts” in the EMR industry do an evaluation of 5-10 EMR companies. Record it. Stream it live on out websites. Allow people to attend. Could be interesting.

  • That would be great. I will be going to the one in Georgia in March I believe. So we need to get some sort of exhibitor space from HIMSS, right?

    I think if it works out it will be wonderful. Now we need to start talking to doctors who might be interested in evaluating EMR software and vendors that might want to be evaluated.

    May be we should get other people interested first?

  • Jawad,
    I’m not sure we want a booth (that’s really expensive). Maybe just another room somewhere. I bet we could get EMR TV to cover it along with EMR Update maybe. I’ll shoot you an email to talk about the possibilities.

    The key question during HIMSS is will we be busy with all the other things going on to be able to do it properly.

    We definitely want to see if there is interest first I think.

  • You are right. Interest would be the main thing. I’m going to HIMSS just to look at what’s going on in the EMR industry. I’m not representing any vendor though. I have worked for two, but quickly lost faith in the unethical marketing practices employed by both of them. So I guess I can make a dedicated effort to help doctors evaluate EMR from a neutral perspective. I do travel back and forth between US and Asia though, and I am in the latter currently. So send me an email and let’s discuss what we can do. I can ask a few docs in NYC to come for the evaluation.

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