The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT; Chicago) has published its approved criteria and test scripts, developed during the 2009 development cycle, on its web site,, along with a newly developed "Concise Guide to CCHIT Criteria."

The guide maps the criteria to the characteristics of a qualified electronic health record (EHR) as specified in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and highlights the 2009 criteria changes.

The commission said it also is planning to transition its certification program timelines to adapt to the new requirements of ARRA.

The newly released criteria pertain to Ambulatory (office-based), Inpatient (hospital-based), Enterprise and Emergency Department electronic health records (EHR), as well as for the newly developed stand-alone Electronic Prescribing certification.

CCHIT also published criteria for the Ambulatory add-on options in Child Health and Cardiovascular Medicine. The accompanying guide is specific to the Ambulatory and Inpatient criteria.

"With the release of these criteria, the commission is transitioning its certification program timelines to adapt to the new requirements of ARRA as well as the still-emerging work processes of the Office of the National Coordinator and its Advisory Committees," said Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD, chairman of CCHIT.

He added, "Instead of immediately launching a 2009-10 certification program, we have submitted the criteria to the Health Information Technology Standards Committee for review, anticipating some feedback by Aug. 26, after which we will work to quickly resolve any gaps and begin accepting applications for the 2009-10 certification programs. Meanwhile, we will be . . . busy updating our policies and testing new ideas with the goal of offering an array of certification programs to support more rapid, widespread adoption and meaningful use of EHR technologies."

CCHIT is a private, nonprofit organization that has been recognized by the federal government as an official certification body for electronic health records. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption of robust, interoperable health information technology by creating a credible, efficient certification process.