The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT; Chicago) said that it has selected 265 members for its 19 all-volunteer work groups. These new and returning volunteers will take on the challenge of rapidly transitioning the commission's existing certification programs and developing new paths to certification in order to directly satisfy the objectives and measures of meaningful use, to be released soon by the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology and its advisory committees.

The volunteers were selected from a pool of more than 600 applicants who submitted 1,123 separate applications – four times as many as there were work group slots available.

In making its selections, CCHIT said it based its decisions on individual expertise as well as balancing the experience of previously participating volunteers with the opportunity to include fresh ideas from new participants. The commission's requirement to maintain a fair stakeholder balance also limited the number of openings for applicants from any particular sector.

To achieve an even higher level of accountability and transparency under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the commission limited healthcare IT vendor participation on work groups to 33%, and counted applicants who receive any compensation from a vendor or hold a significant amount of vendor stock as falling within that category.

"This year more than 600 people volunteered – more than twice last year's number – demonstrating the tremendous interest and commitment of the health care community to our efforts as an important part of the larger initiative to accelerate adoption and meaningful use of health IT," said Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD, CCHIT chair. "This year will bring dramatic challenges and changes, and we are grateful so many people are prepared to contribute their time and expertise to address them."

Work group members will meet for the first time on July 15-16 in Chicago, where they will receive the commission's guidance for their upcoming work, as well as review the work in progress by ONC and its advisory committees.

In addition to the 12 existing work groups, seven new work groups were formed this year: Advanced Clinical Decision Support, Advanced Quality, Advanced Interoperability, Advanced Security, Clinical Research, Dermatology, and Long Term and Post Acute Care.

CCHIT is a private, nonprofit organization that has been recognized by the federal government as an official certification body for electronic health records.