The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT; Chicago) reported that it has approved final 2009-2010 criteria for certification of Ambulatory (office-based), Inpatient (hospital-based), and Emergency Department electronic health records (EHR), and for its newly developed stand-alone Electronic Prescribing certification.

The commission also approved updated criteria for the Ambulatory add-on options in Child Health and Cardiovascular Medicine. Besides the detailed criteria and test scripts, the Commission will publish a companion guide mapping the criteria to the characteristics of a qualified EHR as described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The materials will be published on May 29 at

"Over 200 volunteers have demonstrated their commitment to improving health and care by delivering this extensive body of work, on time as promised," said Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD, commission chair. "We will be offering these certification criteria promptly to the Federal HIT Policy and Standards Committees, along with data from our four years of experience certifying health IT, as the Committees race to meet their tight deadlines."

The Certification Handbook, containing the policies of the commission's certification programs, is undergoing a "significant revision" to take into account the expanded applicability of EHR certification under ARRA.

Changes will include a more extensive verification of successful implementation and use of commercial products, as well as piloting of a new program to inspect and certify EHR technologies-in-use that will accommodate a wider variety of development and deployment models. The commission also has formed a sub-committee to research usability measurement.

Regarding the opening date for vendor applications to achieve 2009-2010 certification, Leavitt noted, "According to the recently released Program Implementation Plan for ONC, their Draft Rule – which includes standards and certification criteria – must be submitted to HHS by Aug. 26. We will defer launch of our 2009-2010 inspection programs until we have reviewed that material, in order to ensure conformance of this program to ARRA incentive requirements."

CCHIT said it will release the updated Certification Handbook and announce further details regarding application for 2009-2010 certification during June or July.

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is a private, nonprofit organization that has been recognized by the federal government as an official certification body for electronic health records.