Complete EHR Certification and Module EHR Certification

In a recent discussion I had, someone brought up a really interesting question about module certification to me. Obviously, proving that you use a certified EHR is quite easy if you just use one EHR software that’s a complete certified EHR based on the ARRA guidelines. Then, you can fitfully say that you use a certified EHR.

Even this isn’t that confusing if you use one complete EHR software for everything, but say ePrescribing. Of course, the ePrescribing vendor would need to be certified for those modules, but you can easily show that both are certified EHR and you use all the modules.

The questions start coming in when you start to talk about module EHR certification when you just purchase parts of a software. Let’s say you purchase only part of a certified EHR software (ie. no ePrescribing and no Patient Portal). You don’t purchase those 2 modules since you already use other software to match those needs and their certified for those modules.

The problem with this scenario is how do we know that the main EHR software that you purchased has all of the certified EHR functions if you never purchased two major components? How do we know that the ePrescribing component actually also did some other part of the EHR certification that wasn’t part of the ePrescribing module certification?

Of course, you could easily argue that it doesn’t really matter because if you’re able to show meaningful use with what you bought, then does it matter if your combined EHR software with the other modules wouldn’t technically have passed an EHR certification? It absolutely doesn’t matter. In fact, that’s exactly why EHR certification is a shameful waste of money and time. If I can meet the meaningful use guidelines using a typewriter, then who cares if the typewriter is certified or not?

Moral of the Story (since this isn’t one of my clearest posts): This whole idea of modular certification is going to be messy.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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.


  • They didn’t call it The Stimulus Act for nothin’.

    Objective is to incentivize docs with carrots and sticks to get them to spend a whole lot more money up front to buy an EHR from real big HEIT companies that donated lots of money to the ‘hope and change’ candidate in the 2008 election.

  • Taking it for what its worth, ONC is trying to do its best to streamline or at best vet out the vendors so that there is a baseline set. Modalities and processes may be questionable; but the intent by itself is the right one. Recently we went through the certification process; it was a detailed process alright. Yes; they are still not ready to test the interoperability to the extent it needs to be tested. But overall, I should say they did a diligent job at testing various aspects of the solution to make sure it meets the requirements.
    Its the first step; obviously the re-testing in 2012 will add more rigor and the testing bodies will have more time to develop test scripts further.
    As some of you might or may not agree, Health IT is where financial IT was in the 80s. A long way to go; we have to make a start somewhere. ONC has done its best to start the process.
    Could it have been done better; always. Nevertheless a start.

  • Anthony,
    I agree that ONC seems sincere in their efforts. At least the folks that I’ve met have been that way. It’s just unfortunate that I believe most of the efforts are directed the wrong direction and so they provide little tangible benefit to doctors.

  • “It’s just unfortunate that I believe most of the efforts are directed in the wrong direction”.

    Right John … that’s a problem.

    Academics, government bureaucrats, and professional legislators know nothing about how to incentivize business other than throw money sorta at it or beat it with as stick.

    I notice how many Administration officials are now running back to academia where they came from. They probably think that they know how things work now and will go back to the classroom and their tenured position they took a leave of absence from and write more papers.

  • Don B has it exactly right. I believe that they are trying to get rid of small and solo practice PCPs. They will try to force the PCPs and Specialists into large clinics and to be employed by hospitals and large medical groups. The personal relationship between doctor and patient is going to be gone…better enjoy it while we can…

Click here to post a comment