Potential EHR Certification Conflict of Interest?


Robert O'Harrow over at the Washington Post followed up his story over the weekend about the behind the scenes lobbying to get EHR support into the stimulus bill. In today's Post, O'Harrow has another very interesting follow-on story about the lobbying group mainly responsible for getting the tens of billions of dollars in stimulus money for a US national system of electronic health records.

The group, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, which represents 350 technology vendors and 20,000 members, is pushing hard for "the Department of Health and Human Services to give an organization called the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, or CCHIT, responsibility for deciding what health records systems are eligible to receive stimulus spending," the story goes.

The potential conflict of interest problem with this?

CCHIT is a group started and run by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and is the one currently funded by HHS to define EHR certification criteria.

CCHIT says it makes sure vendors don't dominate its activities, and that those complaining about conflicts of interest are just vendors that don't meet CCHIT certification criteria, so its all sour grapes.

Having the EHR certification agency decide who gets stimulus money is way beyond its remit, and shouldn't be done for this reason alone, in my opinion.

Furthermore, CCHIT has plenty to do in a very short period of time just defining EHR certification standards, let alone taking on added work judging who is and isn't fit to get billions in taxpayer money. It needs to stick to its knitting.

If that wasn't enough, having a cert agency decide who does and does not receive money for following its standards wouldn't pass the smell test in other venues; the CCHIT - HIMSS connection just makes the smell even worse.

Looks like nothing more than a naked power grab and money making scheme to me.


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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City