Cost of EHR Certification

We’ve had a lot of discussion in the past about the cost of EHR certification. It’s been one of the biggest complaints about CCHIT and their EHR certification. One of my readers wanted me to post again about the costs and how this will be such a challenge for new EHR vendors.

First, the problem isn’t that a new EHR vendor couldn’t afford the cost if they wanted to pay it. The problem is that it provides very little benefit to the end users and at the end of the day the cost of the EHR certification would be passed on to the doctors who purchase the EHR.

I’m going to use round numbers, but you can see the detailed CCHIT EHR certification costs on my previous post. Basically as it stands today, full CCHIT EHR certification will run a vendor $37k or more to become certified. Of course, if you just want to be Preliminary ARRA Certified (although we don’t even know if that’s true yet either), then it’s only $33k. Yes, you can certify fewer modules, but that won’t make much sense for most EMR vendors.

Yep, that’s right. $33k that an EMR vendor will have to pay for certification which will add little value to end users and decent marketing value for the EMR vendor.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the development costs to meet the standards (which I should remind you are still not finalized). I read one EMR vendor say that to become CCHIT certified (this was back in 2006 or so) it cost in the six figure range. That’s a lot of money for what?

We know that the Drummond Group and possibly other organizations are planning to certify EHR as well. In fact, the Drummond Group just launched an EHR Certification blog. In the first comment on their blog, they got a question about how much they’re planning to charge for EHR certification.

I’m sure that these organizations will try to undercut CCHIT as far as EHR certification pricing. I’m just not sure it will be enough to make much difference. Why would they undercut them too much?

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.


  • Just out of curiosity, is it necessary to get CCHIT certified vendor just because you want to qualify for incentives or regardless you MUST go for a certified solution?

    Because i make the case that one should go with the one that provides the most amount of value.

  • You only need to use a certified EHR (doesn’t have to be CCHIT certified, but HHS Certified) if you want to get the stimulus money. The only caveat is that if you don’t get the EMR stimulus money, then in a few years there are 1-5% Medicare penalties for not using one and showing meaningful use. However, many people strongly believe that those penalties will actually never be implemented. Of course, that’s conjecture.

    So, there’s nothing forcing you to use a certified EMR solution. More and more people are doing as you describe, ” go with the one that provides the most amount of value.” They make the valid argument that if you get $44k in EMR stimulus money and lose $50k in productivity then you would have been better to go with an EMR that can’t get you stimulus money, but still maintains or even improves your productivity (among other EMR benefits).

    Some have suggested that insurance companies might impose the certified EMR or meaningful use requirements, but I think that’s pretty unlikely.

  • The Certification criteria appears to be a standard laundry list of features available in most EHR products these days, and the certification companies usually inspect and verify them in a day. Is it just me or is there a justification for these high costs (fees) incurred for certifying a product? Unless the certifying companies are willing to explain the basis for their fees, I will have to assume this is to be another govt. sanctioned giveaway to this handful of vendors that do these tests.

  • Jay,
    There are bigger giveaways. These certifying bodies don’t make a huge killing. Sure, they charge too much for what they do, but they have a limited customer base.

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