The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology is on the defensive after a very scathing comment about it on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog last week. (I added the hot links and spacing between paragraphs, but otherwise the text is verbatim):
Why not pack CCHIT EHR certifications in Cracker Jack Boxes? If folks think CCHIT is a real organization and the certification is anything more then a stamp of approval from the HIMSS Circus they need to think again after looking at the facts.
Some facts are known about the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.
The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) is a defunct Illinois Not-For-Profit 501(c) 3, which operates to take money from the Office of the National Coordinator and Vendors by offering to sell a “Certification”.
DID I say DEFUNCT? Yes I said DEFUNCT…please read on.
The Not-For-Profit 501(c) 3, Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), operates a “Front” office located at 200 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
CCHIT, as it is known, represents itself as a government recognized organization for certifying electronic health records. CCHIT has received monies from the United States Government (estimated over $2.5 million to date) and monies from vendors of electronic health records.
CCHIT was formed as a NFP in the State of Illinois and is an entity spawned by none other , HIMSS.org. CCHIT is no longer a legal entity existing within the State of Illinois effective April 11, 2008, but continues to engage business as a 501(c) 3 accepting payments as reported by J. Morrisey, Director of CCHIT Communications (February 3, 2009).
CCHIT continues to hold itself out to take money for the sale of “Certification” (a rubber stamp device the buyer can display on his product if the fee is paid), a contrived performance standards product label developed by its parent organization, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a lobbyist, with headquarters at 230 E. Ohio St., Chicago, Illinois. CCHIT was also located within the HIMSS Headquarters at 230 E. Ohio Street in Chicago but moved to Wacker Drive apparently due to appearances of being too close to the lobbyist parent organization.
CCHIT, through the organization that spawned them—HIMSS.org, a lobbyist organization—recently asked for $25 Billion additional funds in an open letter to the Obama
administration (http://www.himss.org/advocacy/). HIMSS, through its agent H. Stephen Lieber, provided CCHT with $300,000 seed money in 2006 with which to fund a startup operation. HIMSS receives money from CCHIT as a subcontractor, as the payoff for seeding the startup. HIMSS provides public commentary through the use of its own members for certification criteria back to CCHIT. HIMSS is also the parent company for the Electronics Health Record Vendor Association (EHRVA), another Not-For-Profit housed at 230 E. Ohio St., Chicago, Illinois.
1. The Chairman of CCHIT is Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD. Mark Leavitt is also Chief Medical Officer with HIMSS.org. It is believed Mark Leavitt may be a relative of Mike Leavitt, former HHS Secretary.
2. CCHIT takes federal money, and money from vendors, in exchange for the sale of “certification”. CCHIT does not have a legitimate physical address where it conducts its testing. CCHIT has a “front” office at 200 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, with previous headquarters at 230 E. Ohio St., Chicago, Illinois. CCHIT is, in fact, now defunct.
3. CCHIT has no legitimate registration certificate of good standing with the State of Illinois, the state in which it is purportedly chartered as a 501(c) 3. It is, in fact, listed as “involuntarily dissolved” effective April 11, 2008, file# 65254336. Illinois State listing here: http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/
4. CCHIT does not provide independent inspections of its facility or 3rd party reviews of its findings. “Certification” status of vendor products granted by CCHIT after the Illinois State’s involuntary dissolution date of April 11, 2008 appears to be without merit or bogus, and CCHIT operates deceptively to convey legitimacy.
5. CCHIT operates fraudulently within the State of Illinois and in the United States to take money from vendors of electronic health record systems and from taxpayers; the CCHIT business practice presents as a Pay-For-Play scheme; if the vendor pays, CCHIT certifies the product conveying a competitive advantage in the marketplace. There is no transparent certification testing for 3rd party review. The costs to certify are in the many tens of thousands per vendor. Officers and Directors of CCHIT have taken money in exchange for “Certification”, knowing its 501(c) 3 operational status to be defunct.
6. CCHIT, a dissolved entity and defunct 501(c) 3 Not-For-Profit, receives funding from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONCHIT) and is tied to a lobbyist organization that claims to be a Not-For-Profit, HIMSS.org—the organization that spawned CCHIT and which formerly housed the entity in its corporate headquarters located at 230 E. Ohio St., Chicago, Illinois.
Why does CCHIT continue to certify vendor products when its own corporation has been involuntarily dissolved? Does the word “MONEY” ring a bell?
CCHIT continues to hold itself out as a certifying entity when it can’t even certify to the state of its incorporation that it does in fact exist.
The certification process and testing should be reviewed carefully, and those vendor companies whose products were certified after CCHIT’s involuntary dissolution should be contacted. Money should be returned to the vendors and the taxpayers- CCHIT is a bogus operation.
CCHIT should NOT be allowed to receive future Federal grants and monies from the United States Government as part of the stimulus package. CCHIT is defunct , moreover the cozy relationships between CCHIT, ONC, CMS, HITSP and others are bankrolled with taxpayer money and money from HIMSS.org and its others.
Through all the smoke and mirrors we the people are supposed to trust these Bozo’s and they actually think we are buying it?
There is no point in CCHIT holding itself out as a legitimate entity at HIMSS Annual Conference either, CCHIT is a defunct organization and has been since the beginning of 2008…DUH!
CCHIT has flown under the radar for a year and a half, the jig is up and the whistle has been blown.
Comment by cj – February 13, 2009 at 2:10 am
Oddly, this post actually was a comment in response to a post about the Mayo Clinic being caught in the Bernie Madoff scandal, and seemed to come out of the blue. I have no details about the identity of “CJ,” the person who makes these serious charges.
Clearly, though, the message got through, since CCHIT’s Sue Reber responded Sunday on the WSJ blog:
The “facts” in the previous post are deliberate misinformation from an anonymous source.
1. Mark Leavitt, chair of the Commission, is not employed by HIMSS as CMO nor is he a relative of Mike Leavitt, previous Sec. of HHS.
2. CCHIT conducts jury-observed and technical testing of vendor-submitted products, requiring that the products meet 100% of the compliance criteria published at http://www.cchit.org/certify/index.asp. It’s current administrative offices are at 200 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 3100, Chicago, Illinois.
3. CCHIT was founded originally as a LLC but has subsequently transitioned to a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. That is its current status.
4. CCHIT operates with the oversight of both its board of trustees – managing its business functions – and board of commissioners, which provides oversight of its certification development programs and inspection processes.
5. CCHIT’s trustees and commissioners receive no compensation; they serve in a volunteer capacity. CCHIT operates with a paid staff of about 20 personnel who support the work of the Commission and it’s 15 volunteer work groups, administer the certification inpections and provide outreach to its diverse stakeholders
6. CCHIT now operates independently of HIMSS, AHIMA and NAHIT – its founding organizations – and no money provided by ONC for developent or by vendors for the conduction of inspections is returned to those organizations.
Any questions about CCHIT’s operations may be directed to me at the following email address.
Sue Reber, Marketing Director
I live in Chicago. Say what you want about Illinois government, particularly in light of the Rod Blagojevich circus, but Secretary of State Jesse White seems as clean as they get, so I will take the public record at its word.
Here’s what else I know:
- The “J. Morrisey” that the accuser refers to likely is John Morrissey (note the different spelling), communication manager for CCHIT. Morrissey previously worked for NAHIT. That does not necessarily mean NAHIT has any control over CCHIT.
- Mark Leavitt no longer works for HIMSS, nor is he related to former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.
- CCHIT received a three-year, $7.5 million contract from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in October 2005. That means the contract expired in October 2008.
- Though the procurement process for the certification contract ostensibly was open, CCHIT was the only bidder. Given that HIMSS, NAHIT and AHIMA originally started CCHIT, it does seem like this was a de facto no-bid contract.
- Although HIMSS did provide seed money for CCHIT, I am not aware of any current “subcontractor” relationship.
- The HIMSS EHRVA changed its name to the HIMSS EHRA last year, dropping “vendor” from the title. I’m not sure whether this is relevant to any of this discussion, but “CJ” mentioned it.
- The relationships between HIMSS, CCHIT, NAHIT, HITSP, ONC, CMS and others may be “cozy,” and that’s something definitely worth looking into. HIMSS CEO Steve Lieber and John Loonsk, M.D., director of the ONC Office of Interoperability and Standards are on the HITSP board, but that does not necessarily mean anything.
- There has been some pushback against the CCHIT certification process of late from smaller vendors, provider organizations and critics of the ONC strategy in general. But those are criticisms of the process, not CCHIT itself.
All of this makes the rumors of Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel Chairman John Halamka, M.D., being under consideration for CMS administrator all the more delicious. But we’re still waiting for the president to nominate an HHS secretary, so it could be months before we get a permanent CMS administrator.