Clinical, Financial and Administrative Insights For Physicians

Certified EMR Software - Which is the Certification Agency After All?

Posted by Alok Prasad

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009, specifically provides $17.2 billion in financial incentives designed to facilitate the widespread implementation of "certified" Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems into physician practices and hospitals. Physicians, facilities, and other providers will receive money through Medicare or Medicaid programs for their "meaningful use" of EHRs.

Note the use of two terms in the paragraph above - ‘Certified' and ‘Meaningful use'. For the purposes of this blog, we will confine our self to the definition of ‘Certified' EHR (aka Certified EMR Software) as it has been evolving.

Certification Agency for EMR Software

Certified EMR SoftwareEven though CCHIT or Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology had not been explicitly mentioned under ARRA, it had been widely believed that CCHIT will be named as the certification agency. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT®) is a private, non-profit organization formed to certify electronic health records (EHRs), aka electronic medical records (EMRs) against roughly 475 criteria spanning EMR functionality, interoperability and security. But the situation has undergone a sea change since August 2009.

Certification Criteria

By mid-August, the ONCHIT's Policy Committee had approved a final version of the Matrix that would serve as the basis for EHR certification as mandated by ARRA. The criteria are not consistent with those used by CCHIT to certify EHRs. They are outcomes-oriented, while CCHIT's criteria are feature, structure and process-oriented.

Certification Agency

In 3rd week of August 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would almost certainly assume responsibility for deciding which electronic health record systems qualify for bonus payouts under Medicare, as required by ARRA.

In August 2009, the Health IT Policy Committee also adopted recommendations that called for multiple entities to certify EHR systems. The certification and adoption work group said it envisions the establishment of 10 to 12 different EHR certification groups, in addition to CCHIT.

CCHIT to provide Interim Certification

The Policy Committee also proposed a transition plan to help health IT vendors develop products that meet the 2011 meaningful use requirements.

Under the "Preliminary HHS Certification" process, CCHIT likely would provide interim certification for EHR vendors. The transition plan would invite CCHIT to submit a proposal for developing the preliminary certification process.
As you can see, the certification process has been evolving rapidly. We will keep our readers posted with the developments as they occur.

To learn more about Certified EMR Software, send us an email at with your question and we will respond within 48 hours.


RevenueXL Inc. provides best value comprehensive solutions to medical practices. Our solutions include affordable Electronic Medical Records Software (a.k.a. EMR or EHR Software), Patient Portal, and Practice Management or Medical Billing software and revenue cycle services including medical billing, medical coding, coding audits and account receivables management services. RevenueXL offers a free consultation session to review your current challenges and answer open questions revolving around EMR and revenue cycle.

Tags: EHR Software, EMR Software, Meaningful use, Certified EHR Software

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