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New ONC CHPL Site Will Enhance Health IT Product Comparison

"This change to a more open environment will allow for data access in a number of different ways in both human- and machine-readable format."

- The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)’s Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) is undergoing major upgrades to facilitate use by providers and researchers. Targeted for a late February release, the new “Open Data CHPL” will allow more fluid access to certification and testing information about electronic health records systems and other health IT products as passed along by ONC’s Authorized Certification Bodies (ACBs).

“A lot of the information that was on the previous version of the CHPL was stored in PDF documents or in ways that people couldn’t readily access,” said Scott Purnell-Saunders, senior advisor in the health IT certification program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “So this change from a more closed environment to an open one will allow for data access in a number of different ways in both human- and machine-readable format.”

Purnell-Saunders’ comments came during a presentation to the Certified Technology Comparison (CTC) Task Force on Jan. 15. CTC will make final recommendations this week to a joint meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee and Health IT Standards Committee regarding the state of certified health IT comparison tools.

The new data file will be represented in both XML and JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) formats with accompanying API functionality to enable calls and queries. The change comes in response to feedback from stakeholders regarding difficulty of accessing information contained in publicly available test reports for certified health IT products.

“We wanted to make sure a lot of the data elements stored in those sometimes 30- to 40-page documents would be accessible to researchers and analysts in a more powerful and usable way,” said Purnell-Saunders.

When the Open Data CHPL becomes publicly available, it will contain all 2014 Edition certified products as well as all newly certified 2015 Edition products. However, generation of EHR Certification IDs, required for participation in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ EHR Incentive Programs, will not be available at launch of the new site. That functionality will be added later. Users who need to generate IDs for 2014 Edition products will have to visit the legacy CHPL site in the interim.

Change is also coming to the product management side of the database, according to Purnell-Saunders. “There was a previous review that ONC and other folks went through to verify and validate the certification and testing process. We’re automating that process so ONC-ACBs will have direct access to upload products to the site once they pass through a quick screening process,” he explained. “So we’re expecting that products that have been successfully certified to be available much faster than they were before.”

Additionally, an expanded user interface will allow for more responsive searches within the Open Data CHPL. “We built in the functionality so that when you start typing a particular entry, the site recognizes what you are typing and auto-generates the next word in a predictive format,” said Purnell-Saunders. More detailed filtering will be available through advanced options, but “ideally, the new site will mainly be driven by responsive and expansive search to try to get folks the information as soon as they would like to have it,” he added.

Upon retrieval of details about a particular product, the user display will be tiered to allow for either a quick or expanded view. “We understand that for the 2015 edition, there are 60 certification criterion. The details surrounding them, as well as the optional areas, can be rather long. So we are working on a responsive format adaptable to both website use and mobile use,” said Purnell-Saunders.

Other things to watch for in the revamped CPHL include:

  • the ability to submit automated API calls to the database to obtain specified information on a regular basis;
  • product download files available in Excel or XML formats; and
  • a comparison button enabling side-by-side views of selected products.

The slides from Purnell-Saunders’ presentation are available here.

 

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