First set of certified e-health records available

The first set of certified electronic health record systems became available this week under the Health and Human Services Department's health IT efforts.

It is the first tangible product to emerge from contracts that HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT awarded in 2005 to accelerate use of electronic health records and other health IT to improve safety and reduce the cost of health care.

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology gave its seal of approval to 20 electronic health record products. The commission has developed criteria and a certification process to assure that those electronic health records meet baseline levels of functionality, interoperability and security.

Product certification should spur electronic record adoption because it will reduce the risk of investments by physicians and hospitals in health IT, HHS said.

"This seal of certification removes a significant barrier to widespread adoption of electronic health records. It gives health care providers peace of mind to know they are purchasing a product that is functional, and interoperable and will bring higher quality, safer care to patients," HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt said in a statement.

The certification commission will announce more vendors' products at the end of the month and quarterly thereafter.

"Volunteers from across the health care spectrum developed CCHIT's criteria and inspection process, ensuring fairness and balance between the interests of diverse stakeholders," said Mark Leavitt, chair of the Certification Commission for Health IT.

The initial certified products are electronic health records for physicians' offices or outpatient medical facilities. The commission next will turn its attention to certifying inpatient or hospital electronic health records.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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