EHR Diamonds and Snakes – EHR Certification Doesn’t Differentiate

Jim Tate posted an interesting and valuable warning today in his post on HITECH Answers. Here’s his warning in a nutshell:

“My warning is about the mistaken belief that because an EHR or Module has been listed on the CHPL site it must be good or even serve an intended purpose with any degree of usability. That is simply not the case and everyone knows it.”

He goes on to provide more detail regarding his caution and warning:

Stage 1 Certification is not a seal of approval. No one should think the list of Certified Products is a list of equals. Quite a few of the applications are excellent and demonstrate elegant approaches to the electronic documentation of health information. Others are poorly designed, cumbersome, and no provider will ever be satisfied using them. The purpose of certification was not to separate the good from the bad. So tread very carefully and know the list of these applications contains quite a few diamonds, as well as a few snakes.

Jim Tate and I have actually spoken in person about this before. In fact, I’ve tried to get him to write a series on my blogs about what makes an EHR a diamond and which makes an EHR a snake. So far he hasn’t taken my bait, but I’ll keep trying.

Jim is spot on though. Don’t confuse EHR certification for anything more than a means to obtain EHR stimulus money. It provides no other real assurance to you as a provider. Run from EHR sales people who tell you otherwise.

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.


  • Hi April,
    I have heard of HITR. It’s an affiliate of Billian’s and Porter Research. One of my writers actually works for them. They just launched that site not long ago. So, it’s still too early to tell if they’ll be able to gather the aggregate knowledge on that site that would be useful to providers. I hope they can.

    If you get into that site and get some good info, we’d love to hear about it.

  • A agree that just because an EHR is Certified for MU that it will meet the needs of the provider. All providers moving towards EHR adoption need to look at how the system they are implementing will meet the needs of their practice. Also important to realize that just because a system meeting Stage 1 certification, doesn’t mean that it will be around for Stage 2 or 3 or that it will have the capabilities to meet the later stages of MU. My team has used NextGen EHR for the last 6 years and it meets current and is aiming towards future requirements. I have over 200 docs marching towards MU, but it has had an overall positive effect on our operations. The fact that it is Certified for MU just makes it even better.

  • Gary,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. You’re right that some EHR won’t hit MU stage 2 and 3. Although, quite honestly I’ll be surprised if a bunch of them don’t make it. That’s the bar that every EHR vendor has to hit, so they will.

    I’m interested in hearing more details about the “positive effect on our operations.” What kinds of benefits are you seeing from it?

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