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by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: September 2, 2015


In light of the HITECH Act of 2009 (discussed in more detail below), finding CCHIT certified electronic health records has become a priority for most medical practices currently buying an EMR. But with approximately 100 certified electronic medical records programs and 250 total certifications, this search can be confusing. This buyer’s guide is designed to clarify the process and make the search a little bit easier.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Common Features of CCHIT EMRs Certification
What Type of EMR Buyer Are You?
Benefits and Potential Issues
Market Trends to Understand
The CCHIT-Certified EMR Vendor Landscape

Common Features of CCHIT EMRs Certification?

What is CCHIT? CCHIT electronic medical records certification is based on over 400 criteria spanning EMR functionality, interoperability and security. Specific criteria categories include:

Patient record Create unique records with unique identifiers, demographic information and provider information, and have those records be compatible with those of other systems.
Diagnosis data Accurately and discretely capture, manage and access patient complaint information.
Medications Accurately and discretely track medication usage and history and suggest, prescribe and administer medications, taking into account patient complaints, allergies and drug interactions for potential adverse reactions.
Document management Make and modify notes, capture vital signs, manage authorizations and advance directives and integrate images and documents from external sources as necessary.
Patient education Generate and record patient instructions based on condition, severity and/or patient history, and modify that information or customize it to the patient.
Testing Integration with diagnostic tests and lab results, including ordering, receiving, tracking, graphical ability and compatibility with external sources.
Disease management Tracking the patient condition for preventive care, providing automatic alerts based on standard and customizable warning criteria.
Administration Includes clinical task assignment, inter-provider communication, scheduling and report generation.
Concurrent use Allows multiple providers to simultaneously use the same or different settings.
Security Provides HIPAA compliance, including authentication and selective access control within the office environment.

What Type of EMR Buyer Are You?

CCHIT electronic health record certification criteria vary depending on the facility: there are separate EMR certification criteria for different types of buyers. Here is a brief description of the different certifications and how they vary:

Ambulatory EMR. An EMR holding this certification meets all the criteria for outpatient facilities. In addition to the standard certification, ambulatory EMRs may have add-on certification for the following specialties: behavioral, cardiovascular, pediatric, dermatology, clinical research, oncology and obstetrics.

Inpatient EMR. Certification for inpatient EMRs focuses heavily on medication orders and order sets, including the ability to administer medications safely and effectively. Since CCHIT encourages inpatient EMR applicants to test against all ONC-ATCB 2011/2012 criteria for eligible hospitals at no additional charge, it’s highly likely that inpatient programs will also meet ONC-ACTB criteria.

Emergency department EMR. Interoperability requirements for an emergency department EMR focus on laboratory messaging. These EMRs also need to meet criteria for bed management, discharge instructions and transfers to other departments.

Behavioral health EMR. Behavioral health center EMRs may have qualified under the ambulatory EMR with the behavioral add-on, or under this stand-alone behavioral health EMR certification. The biggest piece of this kind of EMR is the ability to manage clinical documents, notes, assessments and treatment plans that may change over time.

There are also separate certifications for EMR software for long term and post acute care centers and for ePrescribing EMRs.

Benefits and Potential Issues

The obvious benefits for purchasing a CCHIT certified EMR are access to HITECH Act stimulus patients and the assurance that you’ll be getting a high quality EMR system that meets all functionality, interoperability and security needs. It’s important to understand, however, that a single CCHIT certified EMR may not make a provider eligible for HITECH Act incentive payments. A product may be certified by CCHIT for ePrescribing, but not for inpatient care, in which case it would not qualify the facility for stimulus funds. Therefore, it’s important to ensure, even if they are CCHIT certified, that the purchase will qualify you for stimulus payments. It's also important to understand that the cost of certified EHR software may be higher than other, non-certified products. The costs aren't arbitrary, however. They support the development of the features and functionality necessary for meeting certification requirements.

Market Trends to Understand

CCHIT became especially relevant in light of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which includes $19 billion in stimulus money to incentivize medical offices to adopt electronic health records. In order to receive the money, the EHR must be certified Office of the National Coordinator – Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB). Until January 2014, CCHIT was one of six ONC-ATCB certifying bodies meeting the federal requirements to perform EHR certification. Consult our ONC-ATCB Certified EMRs page for an up-to-date list of these systems.

The CCHIT-Certified EMR Vendor Landscape

Below are some of the major players among CCHIT-certified EMRs.

This type of buyer... Should evaluate these systems
Ambulatory care providers eClinicalWorks, Allscripts, Greenway, Aprima
Inpatient facilities Epic, NextGen
Emergency departments Allscripts, Epic
Behavioral health specialists Netsmart, NextGen

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