Today's blog post comes from the WebPT content crew: Senior Writer Charlotte Bohnett, Contributing Writer Erica Cohen, and Junior Writer Brooke Andrus.
Recently, we’ve received quite a few questions regarding WebPT’s status with the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT). As a result, we thought we’d take this blog post to address what CCHIT certification means, why we are not certified, and why that is A-okay. Here’s some background:
What’s the HITECH Act?
In 2009, the federal government enacted the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Designed to promote widespread adoption of health information technology, this legislation established government-issued financial incentives for “eligible professionals” who implement electronic health records (EHRs) in their practices and demonstrate “meaningful use.” These eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and up to $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.
What does this have to do with CCHIT?
Well, to qualify for the incentive program, providers first must implement an EHR that “offers the necessary technological capability, functionality, and security to help them meet the meaningful use criteria.” CCHIT is one of two organizations responsible for certifying that an EHR offers just that. To learn more about demonstrating meaningful use, check out this article.
Why isn’t WebPT certified?
At this point, you might still be wondering why WebPT is not CCHIT-certified. This should clear things up: As of today, the term “eligible professionals” refers to physicians, hospitals, and critical access hospitals—not physical therapists, occupational therapists, or speech-language pathologists. This means that the rehab therapy community is neither required nor incentivized—yet—to adopt an EHR. And in turn, electronic record systems specifically for the rehab therapy industry do not need to qualify for certification because they’re not servicing “eligible professionals.”
And that’s okay?
So, for the above reasons—specifically, that WebPT is an EMR exclusively for rehab therapists—we are not CCHIT-certified. And for all these same reasons, it’s perfectly fine that we aren’t. After all, you don’t need a system that is. All of that being said, if the federal government does decide to revise the HITECH Act so that PTs, OTs, and SLPs are considered eligible professionals and are thus required to use an EMR that qualifies for meaningful use, you can bet your bottom dollar that WebPT will get CCHIT-certified pronto.
How do we get the federal government to recognize rehab therapists as eligible professionals?
We have to make our voices heard. The APTA has sent letters (like this one, this one, and this one) and takes a strong stance in support of EHR adoption and the HITECH Act. Furthermore, they offer a wealth of resources on their website regarding the topic. These same actions—and more!—need to hold true for all our membership organizations, and we encourage you to contact them to learn more about what they’re doing to advocate for their members. After all, it’s these organizations that can lobby in Washington.