The Impact of EHR Certification

In the comments of my post on EMR and EHR titled EHR Vendors Using EHR Certification Excuse, Jeff offered a frank comment about the realities EHR vendors face in this current climate:

I went through EHR certification for a EHR product – for the sake of this discussion it can remain nameless as you can insert any EHR name and it will share the same issues. The process was cumbersome and I agree is not worthwhile for our clients. However at least 90% of our clients were requesting it and all of our sales pipelines say they required it. The interaction you describe I have had. I don’t think it’s the fault of us as a vendor as much as the short sightedness of the committee that created the certification rules. We had to implement fields/screens/buttons that served no purpose in the type of practice we supplied our software to. That did not matter to the certification proctor, we had to show it or we failed and lost a lot of money. Getting certified threw off our development cycle at least 6 months. During that time we had to push off many good customer requested enhancements. In hindsight would our customers prefer we did not get certified – probably, but could our company take a chance at not being able to renew contracts or get new sales. No way, not for a government mandated push.

This reminds me of a video I recently saw that asked the question, “What do we want EHR certification to do?” The problem here is that I think everyone has a different answer to that question. Until we define what EHR certification should really accomplish, it’s hard to make criteria that are beneficial and easy to understand. In the rush to meet the regulatory requirements I think we missed creating the bigger vision of why we’re doing EHR certification at all. That’s why we’re where we’re at today.