Certification group struggles against vendor-driven reputation

April 18, 2005

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is combating the notion that it is driven by vendors and may not have the healthcare provider’s best interests in mind.

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is combating the notion that it is driven by vendors and may not have the healthcare provider's best interests in mind.

Dr. Mark Leavitt, chair of the commission, found himself defending it during a presentation at the spring American Medical Informatics Association meeting. He was asked by several attendees how he would respond to claims that the organization is vendor-centric.

Leavitt said that the perception is a misconception of the commission as it currently stands, especially because seed funding for the group initially came from three professional organizations: the American Health Information Management Association, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and the National Alliance for Health Information Technology.

"The core of those associations is health information management professionals, so right now the money is really coming from those professionals," he said.

The money helps the commission find ways to accelerate the adoption of interoperable healthcare IT systems.

The organization may eventually charge fees from vendors who participate in the certification program, however. If user fees do come from vendors, then the vendor-driven perception may be a fair assessment, according to Leavitt. To provide balance, the group would work for a diversification of funding.

"If you look at how we're structured, we have to actively work to overcome that perception if that is what people see. That's one of the tasks for me," he said.

The organization held its first official meeting on Sept. 14, 2004, and plans to have a pilot certification process in place by this summer.

Under the certification process, there will be no intermediate grades and products will either be certified or not certified. The organization would most likely certify many products in its initial stages but would also release future one- and two-year road maps in an attempt to guide vendors toward meeting higher requirements, Leavitt said.

"We need to do this in the private sector. The marketplace can attempt certification in a more flexible and more responsive way than can be done through legislation or with a purely regulatory agency," he said.

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