Starting in 2009, the US Congress acknowledged the importance of certfication as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which sought to stimulate renewed growth and vigor in the US economy. Since then, they have made grants and funding available to service providers and hospitals for “meaningful use of EHR (electronic health records) technology.” The total amount of money involved through the ARRA is nothing to sneeze at, either: somewhere around $34 billion dollars in related funding should be disbursed under the act by the time it expires, says the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
In turn, this has led to an explosion in healthcare certification programs and credentials. In addition to the CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician (aka hitech) there are at least half-a-dozen other programs in this arena out there worth checking into:
- The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) is a non-profit organization that drives a lot of this activity, in supporting its mission to accelerate “the adoption of health IT.” This organization certifies EHR products though a rigorous series of standards and requirements.
- Health IT Certification offers a variety of training and certification programs “for those responsible for planning, selecting, implementing, and managing electronic health records (EHR) and other health information technology (HIT) and those engaged in the creation and management of Health Information exchanges…”(HIEs).
- The University of Connecticut has developed an online program in Healthcare Information Technology that results in a certificate of completion after 5 5-week courses from a predetermined slate of offerings are completed (one of two foundation courses, plus two each at the basic and advanced levels).
- EMRapproved.comoffers a slate of Healthcare IT certifications to identify qualified consultants to assist in a transition from paper to electronic medical records, and with the management and maintenance of EHR systems following that transition.
- The American Society of Health Informatics Managers (ASHIM) offers the Certified Health Informatics Professional (CHISP) credential that combines specific academic degree requirements with relevant work experience and a professional examination to identify qualified health IT Professionals.
- The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers a complete slate of 7 different HIT certifications for administrators and technicians, medical records coding specialists, plus specialist credentials in healthcare privacy and security and health data analysis.
For the time being the following organizations have been approved to certify EHR systems for the federal incentive program, while the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT puts a permanent certification program together, working with NIST. These organizations include:
See this story “ONC final rule establishes permanent health IT certification program” for more details. Look for an article on Tom’s IT Pro from me soon to be entitled “Top 5 Healthcare IT Certifications” wherein I’ll dig into this stuff in more detail.