Drummond Group and CCHIT Become First Official ONC EHR Certifying Bodies

We finally now have the first ONC approved EHR certification bodies (Officially ONC-ATCB or ATCB or ONC Authorized Testing and Certification Body). The first 2 ONC-ATCB are very familiar names that we’ve been talking about on EMR and HIPAA for a long time: Drummond Group and CCHIT.

In an HHS and ONC press release they also noted that “Applications for additional ONC-ATCBs are also under review.”

Drummond Group has already posted information on their website about their EHR certification and testing plans. The most useful item is this 10 page EHR Testing, Pricing and Certification guide (PDF).

Lots of interesting information in the PDF which I’ll likely talk about later. The pricing however is worth noting now. It’s on page 8 of the PDF document and has certification set at $19,500 for the Complete Remote EHR certification and $23,500 plus travel for the Onsite EHR certification tests. There’s also pricing for the modular certification.

I haven’t found any published prices on CCHIT certification, but in the past the CCHIT EHR certification costs were $37,000 for the complete CCHIT certification and $33,000 for the Preliminary ARRA certified EHR.

Looks like we might have a bit of an EHR certification price way on our hands. $20k is still a lot of money for EHR certification, but $10-15k difference is quite a bit of money.

Here’s a short quote from the CCHIT press release about their time frame for accepting EHR certification applications and when we might see the first certified EHR.

CCHIT plans to launch its authorized HHS certification program on September 20 at 1:00 PM Eastern time with a Town Call Web-cast describing its application and testing process. CCHIT will take new health IT developer applications immediately after at http://cchit.org and the first group of HHS certified complete EHRs and EHR modules will be announced within weeks of that launch. More information about the Town Call will be available at http://www.cchit.org/towncalls. The call will be recorded for later viewing.

It will be interesting to see if Drummond Group of CCHIT can produce the first officially certified EHR vendor and which vendor will hold that distinction.

UPDATE: Weno Healthcare looks to be another potential ONC-ATCB (if they get approved) and their EHR certification pricing looks to be in the $14k-$18k range.

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.


  • Just a thought but everyone knows that there is no ARRA MU incentive downside for providers waiting until 2012 to implement an EHR.

    May be smart for providers … and EHR vendors to not race into an acquisition and deployment of an immature package when the MU bar will be going up next year anyway.

    In Joe Conn’s piece appearing yesterday in ModernHealthcare.com announcing the CCHIT and Drummond certifications by ONC …


    … quoted CCHIT’s Karen Bell: “Bell said that CCHIT will take vendors and developers on a first-come, first-served basis and that the commission already has customers—though she declined to say how many—waiting to be tested and certified. Bell added that she doubts that all 200 vendors have performed the development work necessary for their systems to meet the government’s final meaningful-use criteria, which were not published until July, and for test scripts developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which were released in August.

    Even so, Bell said, CCHIT has a track record of fast response, having worked through several rounds of testing upgrades during which multiple vendors were served.

    “I think we’ve done 85 or 90 (EHR systems) in a 90-day period or so,” she said.”

    While making sure “certification ready” vendors don’t jump for their competitor … her comments continued which may be even more important for the entire HIT space to consider:

    “I think the bigger problem with the vendors is going to be what are they going to do with their installed base?” Bell said. Given that federal officials plan to ratchet up the subsidy program’s meaningful-use criteria in 2013 and 2015, vendors now will have to determine which of their products they’ll continue to support in light of not only the products’ age and development costs, but also the practicality of upgrading them to meet stricter future criteria.

    “They’re going to have to go back and do the upgrades or find a module that will accommodate the fix,” Bell said. She said she is optimistic that the pressure will not force vendors out of business but rather bring new blood and ideas to the health IT market.

    “I’m not necessarily thinking it will be a shakeout,” Bell said. “It’s going to allow a lot more products to be used for meaningful-use incentives. There can be a lot of modular products to complement some things that are missing.” It’s also likely that several more companies new to healthcare IT will enter the market, Bell said.”

    So “wait ’till next year” might not be a bad idea. You don’t miss out on money, the box you buy will have not been rushed to market, when you do buy the market will be thinner, first modification modules will have had a year in development, …

    … and you never know what happens on the legislative front between now and a year from now which changes the political/legislative focus of HEIT going forward.

  • The smartest move CCHIT made might be their preliminary EHR certification. If I’ve spent $20k plus on preliminary certification, you better give me a good deal on the official one. Plus, if you give me a good deal, I’m unlikely to go to another cheaper EHR certification.

    I’m still working on details to see if in fact CCHIT will give a discount or not.

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