Will Obama surrender to health IT lobby?

The CCHIT "certification" documents are complex, its process is complex, and the result of following it is to exclude all new ideas, and open source, from health IT.

The gauntlet has been laid down.

HIMSS has formally told the Administration it wants CCHIT, a certification group it created, to control the stimulus contained in the President's HITECH Act.

The plan is an obvious, overt conflict of interest, which was par for the course during the Bush years.

The question is whether this Administration, in its rush to get money out the door, will acquiesce.

The CCHIT "certification" documents are complex, its process is complex, and the result of following it is to exclude all new ideas, and open source, from health IT.

This blog has been covering the certification problem for months. It's clear that a CCHIT-run certification process benefits only incumbent providers, the same people who have failed for 10 years to deliver coherent, interoperable EHR (or EMR) software.

CCHIT changes its certification criteria every year, and every year it becomes more detailed. While the 2009-2010 standards have now been unveiled only 40 ambulatory EHRs have been approved under the 2008 standards, and only six are approved for emergency departments.

By making all vendors jump through these hoops CCHIT imposes an enormous tax on all vendors and limits competition to those large enough to deal with it.

What reformers like David Kibbe seem to want is a more basic process, one that assures interoperability and encourages innovation. Placing that authority in the government instead of CCHIT does not guarantee this result, but it is certain CCHIT is not going down that road.

What I expect to happen now is for the newly-appointed ONCHIT advisory committee to seek a compromise, and David Blumenthal will try to craft a solution that keeps all options open.

The question is whether that will be enough.