Advice to Karen Bell, CCHIT Head

I previously posted about the new head of CCHIT, Karen Bell. Most of you probably know that I’m not a huge fan of CCHIT, but I’ve decided that I’d like to give Dr. Bell some advice for CCHIT. Free consulting. How cool is that? Here we go…

If Dr. Bell really wants to solidify CCHIT’s position in the EHR world she’ll find a way to show that the CCHIT EHR certification improves usability, EMR implementation success, reimbursement, etc. CCHIT has some vague terminology about the “assurances” that CCHIT certification provide. Unfortunately, they end up being empty assurances about things that doctors don’t really value.

I’d be really impressed to see an independent study done on the EMR implementation success of CCHIT certified EHR versus non-certified EHR. Or how about a study comparing the usability of CCHIT certified EHR versus non-certified EHR. Let’s see some real data on assurances that doctors actually care about. Do that and everyone will want a CCHIT certified EHR.

Unfortunately, if you do go this route, you need to be open to the possibility that an independent study would find that CCHIT certified EHR have a higher EMR implementation failure rate or that CCHIT certified EHR are less usable. What would CCHIT do then (besides try to manipulate the study to look the way they want)?

What’s more unfortunate, is that studies like this should have been performed before Congress decided to just include the term “certified EHR” without actually knowing what consequence (good or bad) that term might have on the EHR industry.

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’d be willing to bet that non-certified EMR implementations are more robust, easier to use, and generally better than those that have undergone certification. I’ve watched software development efforts in general over the last thirty years. Software of the just-make-it work variety is usually cheaper and more successful than those where concern for “process” is the overriding factor.

    Software development is an art, not a science. Those who pay attention to quality and elegance will develop good products. Those who don’t, won’t. Adhering to process won’t help bad developers create better products. And good developers will produce good products in spite of process — not because of it.

    CCHIT should stick to defining the format of the EMR records so that the various EMR products can share patient information seamlessly.

  • It’s a broad statement that you make. I’m guessing that the certified EHR are “more robust” but that often is why they’re so unusable. The doctors I know will take usability over robustness any day and so I can agree with your “generally better” comment.

    CCHIT actually shouldn’t do the standards. They never have done that and never should. The government should fund a bunch of smart people to do that in partnership with private companies. I actually think there’s some progress being made in this regard.

  • As an HIT technology vendor coming to the “EHR” game in the second half, CCHIT’s cert criteria are over the top. We are committed to doing nothing but creating a usable EMR application. Late in 2008, I began reviewing the then CCHIT certification documentation. Based on that criteria, it was going to take us in directions that we not in keeping with what our clients were asking of us. Thank goodness we stuck to our DEV plan, as of today, we are closer to meeting 2011 Meaningful use than we would have been if we had attempted to jump through CCHIT’s hoops.

    Another interesting question (that I wonder if you have researched) how many EHR vendors previously CCHIT certified kept that certification ongoing and if not, why did they not pursue continual certification.

    Unfortunately, ARRA is not making it easy for our company to keep existing clients, since these entities cannot qualify for Federal money or other grants without a “certified” EMR. The costs to certifiy are staggering. We are caught between staying the course to get our product certified when it is ready and jumping ship to rush certification just to save our clients.

  • Sandy,
    Only a very small percentage of the EMR vendors went back and got the CCHIT certification each year. The reason for that though is because CCHIT said the the certification lasted 3 (or maybe it was 4) years. Don’t ask me where they came up with this arbitrary number. If I remember right, this year was going to be the year that EMR vendors were really going to have to decide if they wanted to redo the CCHIT certification. The trend I’m seeing is that most EMR vendors are just going to get the ARRA EHR certification (whatever that ends up being).

    I agree that the cost to certify through CCHIT are very large. Even the ARRA EHR certification is not much of a discount really. It will be interesting to see what pricing Drummond Group will have once they come out with their EHR certification.

    I’d advise that you at least wait and see what price Drummond Group will have before making the decision. Personally, I like the concept I wrote about previously of being “EMR Stimulus Ready”:

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