An Inside Look At CCHIT’s EHR Alternative Certification for Hospitals

Posted on February 1, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Last month, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) became the first hospital to to have its EHR certified as “complete” by the CCHIT.

BIDMC was part of a pilot program testing out CCHIT’s EHR Alternative Certification for Hospitals (EACH), a special program for installed hospital EHR technology.

How did the testing process go?  Well, according to Beth Israel CIO John Halamka, the CCHIT staff was very helpful, but the NIST scripts could use some work before CCHIT rolls out EACH to the world.

BIDMC, which runs all-Intersystems Cache-based hospital systems and Microsoft SQL Server-based business intelligence systems,  had to follow 500 pages of  NIST scripts over 8 hours to satisfy the examiners.

While many of those scripts made sense to Halamka, some seemed just plain odd.   For example, he notes, NIST scripts require hospitals to place a CPOE order for Darvocet for pain control, even though Darvocet has been removed from the market by the FDA.    In another case, a script required Beth Israel to send data to a public health entity about an infection the patient did not have, he says.

All told, if your hospital is planning to try for EACH certification, you’d better be well prepared, Halamka suggests.  “I recommend that hospitals devote at least 2 weeks and 5 FTEs to reviewing the scripts, analyzing the best way to show the necessary functionality, and practicing the demonstration,”  Halamka warns readers of his Life as a Healthcare CIO blog.