Raising a glass to ONC-ATCBs

ONC-ATCBs Unsung Heroes of EHR Incentive Program

I would like to raise a glass of thanks and praise to one of the groups in the background that are rarely acknowledged for their work in spurring HIT adoption. Someone had to step up and take on the difficult task of assuring that EHRs are tested and certified to make sure the technology meets the technical functionality outlined in the Standards & Certification Criteria Final Rule. That group is the ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ONC-ATCB).

These organizations submitted to an extremely rigorous due diligence process to be selected to spearhead the Temporary Certification Program. Many who applied did not make the cut. I can tell you from personal experience that the ones that did are good. Very good. In my work supporting the certification efforts of over 150 HIT vendors I have worked numerous times with  every ONC-ATCB that has been authorized to test and certify Complete EHRs and EHR Modules. I have been with my clients through the certification process with ICSA Labs, SLI Global Solutions, InfoGard Laboratories, CCHIT, and the Drummond Group. Whoever selected these entities should be congratulated. Without exception I have found every one of the ONC-ATCBs more than willing to provide the necessary clarification and guidance to assist vendors. They all respond timely to requests. They all provide flexibility to the scheduling needs of vendors.

Perhaps the most striking thing to me is that the 5 ONC-ATCBs who test and certify Complete EHRs (not including Surescripts as they are only authorized to test and certify EHR Modules: E-Prescribing, Privacy and Security) is the consistent level of testing they have achieved. Sometimes a potential vendor client will ask me, “Who is the easiest to test with”? My answer is always the same. “There is no difference in the actual testing”. To me that is a giant accomplishment and brings credibility to the process. Other things may differentiate one ONC-ATCB from another but it is not in support or testing.

So again, I raise a glass to the ONC-ATCBs. Thank you. I know what you accomplished in the past year. You were handed a mission shackled with regulations and you delivered.

Jim Tate is a nationally recognized expert on the CMS EHR Incentive Program, certified technology and meaningful use and author of The Incentive Roadmap® The Meaningful Use of Certified Technology: Stage 1.