ONC Health IT Certification FAQ

Updated February 11, 2014

Transitioning to ICSA Labs

Q:  What is the cost to transition from CCHIT or another lab to ICSA Labs? Some of the other labs and certification bodies charge for this service.

Q:  Will ICSA Labs honor the original terms specified in the CCHIT Service Agreement and terms listed in the CCHIT ONC HIT Certification Program Handbook (2014 Edition)?

Q:  Do you charge an annual maintenance fee?

Q:  Is there a backlog at ICSA Labs? How far out would you schedule our test session if we signed up today?

Q:  We tested previously with another lab, and we are considering making a change. Which dataset should we use, and how different are your test scripts?

Q:  Do you have a program like CCHIT’s EACH? Can hospitals with homegrown or self-developed systems be “self-certified” at ICSA Labs?

Q: Are you able to provide a price list per criterion?

Q: What is the cost for a full certification?


The Testing and Certification Process

Q:  How do we prepare for the testing and certification process?

Q:  How long does it take to get through the testing and certification process?

Q: Is it possible to test and certify in phases or is it an “all or nothing” proposition?

Q:  Do you recommend a 2 step certification strategy?

Q:  If we have a question about the criteria, do we post it on a message board or forum and wait for an answer, or do we have to wait for a weekly webinar before you’ll address our question? How do we contact you and what is your typical response time to an inquiry related to the testing procedures or requirements?

Q:  Are you going to refer us to a webinar or watch a canned video if we have a question? Because our situation is unique…

Q: So what kinds of resources are available to help us prepare for the certification test?

Q:  How do your Test Scripts differ from CCHIT’s or another lab’s?

Q:   How long do we have to test our product after signing up? 90 days?

Q:  Can our 2011 Edition certified product still be used for 2014 Edition gap certification? We were notified that this option expired on 12/31/13?


Product Certification and Maintenance

Q:  Once we get certified, can you help promote our certification?

Q:  How does ICSA Labs approach product updates?

Q:  What is the cost for a product update?

Q:  Is it possible to rebrand/white label my product, and what does that cost?

Q:  Do you charge for surveillance?


ONC Health IT Certification FAQ

1. ONC FAQ
http://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/permanent-certification-program-faqs

2. Approved 2011 Edition Test Procedures
http://healthcare.nist.gov/use_testing/effective_requirements.html

3. Approved 2014 Edition Test Procedures
http://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/2014-edition-final-test-method

3. ONC Certification vs. HHS Meaningful Use
http://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/certification-and-ehr-incentives#certification-vs-meaningful-use

 4. NIST Testing FAQ
http://healthcare.nist.gov/use_testing/faq.html

 

Transitiong to ICSA Labs

Q:  What is the cost to transition from CCHIT or another lab to ICSA Labs? Some of the other labs and certification bodies charge for this service.

A:  There is no charge to transition to ICSA Labs. Once you sign on with us, we can maintain your existing certification(s) and handle any changes or product updates that may be necessary, as well as conduct the surveillance required to keep your certification in good standing with the ONC. 

Q:  Will ICSA Labs honor the original terms specified in the CCHIT Service Agreement and terms listed in the CCHIT ONC HIT Certification Program Handbook (2014 Edition)?

A: ICSA Labs requires customers to sign and agree to our specific terms and conditions. Customers have found our process to be flexible, and to date, we’ve had a 100% customer retention rate. We are happy to provide you with references, or feel free to take a look at what our current customers are saying.

Q:  Do you charge an annual maintenance fee?

A:  ICSA Labs does not charge any annual maintenance fee.

Q:  Is there a backlog at ICSA Labs? How far out would you schedule our test session if we signed up today?

A: ICSA Labs has no testing backlog. We have trained a large pool of qualified and experienced testers and can accommodate a number of tests on the same day when necessary. We have always anticipated growing our business and meeting customer deadlines, so we can proudly say we have never had any type of backlog, and can get you scheduled to test when you are ready.  We typically ask you to send us your top 2-3 preferred dates and are usually able to accommodate the first or second preference.

Q:  We tested previously with another lab, and we are considering making a change. Which dataset should we use, and how different are your test scripts?

A:  The test data provided by CCHIT and other Accredited Test Labs (ATLs) in the ONC program is provided by the ONC, and so all ATLs use the same test data. Our test scripts may look and feel different because we’ve put the ONC expectations into laymen’s terms, but they map exactly to the ONC test procedures – to the letter – so you can be confident that any prior preparation is still a valid investment.

Q:  Do you have a program like CCHIT’s EACH? Can hospitals with homegrown or self-developed systems be “self-certified” at ICSA Labs?

A:  The EACH service is specific to CCHIT, however ICSA Labs has successfully worked with a number of hospitals and developers of systems that pursued “self-certification,” and are prepared to assist your organization as they prepare for testing and certification. We recognize that hospitals approaching self-certification have their own set of unique concerns and constraints. Our team can accommodate your questions, and help you meet your certification and testing goals through individual attention.

Q: Are you able to provide a price list per criterion?

A:  ICSA Labs’ prices are based on complexity and typical length of time to complete.  The cost per criterion ranges from $200 for some of the simpler test procedures, to $1250 for the most complicated and lengthy. Our sales team would be happy to provide you with a quote for certification and testing services.

Q:  What is the cost for a full certification?

A:  Complete testing and certification costs approximately $25,000. There are additional factors that can impact the price – for example, if testing in phases there are additional costs for each testing session and certification awarded beyond the first, or if you might be eligible for gap testing (which decreases the price).

The Testing and Certification Process

Q:  How do we prepare for the testing and certification process?

A:  Our process is designed to be flexible. We can test you any time you are ready and have mechanisms in place to assess your level of readiness prior to scheduling the certification test(s). Once you have completed the contract/registration process, we will provide you with a prep packet that includes customized test scripts, criterion-specific guidance, reformatted test data, and sample messages (e.g. QRDA Cat 3, CCDA, etc.). We provide access to our clinical, interoperability and security experts to make sure your questions are answered quickly and efficiently, and have additional benefits like kick-off calls when testing some of the more difficult criteria that require usability testing, the DIRECT standard, WCAG conformance, file pre-validations and pre-staging sessions to ensure you have a positive experience and that there are no surprises on the day of the inspection.

Q:  How long does it take to get through the testing and certification process?

A:  This is largely driven by you, our customer.  We can test you any time you are ready and have clearly defined processes so that you can assess your level of readiness prior to scheduling a test. We don’t have any backlog or testing queues, so you don’t have to worry about being scheduled months out once you are ready to go. Customers have one year to complete all certification/testing-related activities once the Statement of Service contract has been executed.

Q:  Is it possible to test and certify in phases or is it an “all or nothing” proposition?

A: We have a program that is designed to be flexible and meet your needs – whether you test and certify all the criteria you are interested in at once, or would like to test in phases.    

Q:  Do you recommend a 2 step certification strategy?

A:  Many customers test in “phases” or “waves.” Approaching certification and testing in a series of steps may make sense. We suggest tackling some of the easier criteria and those related to functionality you have already developed and validated first, and then coming back to complete the more complex criteria. Our team can discuss this in more detail on a call and offer suggestions based on the level of functionality in your product and what you may still have to develop. In general, we suggest attempting the criteria that may be easier to accomplish initially in order to demonstrate to customers you are engaged in the certification process and to give your team more development time to prepare for the later phases if necessary. There are nominal fees for additional test sessions and certifications awarded, but sometimes testing in phases is easier and more cost effective in the long run. Talk to our team for suggestions as to which criteria could be considered “low hanging fruit.”

Q:  If we have a question about the criteria, do we post it on a message board or forum and wait for an answer, or do we have to wait for a weekly webinar before you’ll address our question? How do we contact you and what is your typical response time to an inquiry related to the testing procedures or requirements?

A:  ICSA Labs is customer-centric and we take questions from our customers seriously.  We understand how critical it is during the development process to receive timely and comprehensive responses to your questions.  To help ensure your questions are answered in an effective manner, every customer will have an account manager, and will also have direct access to our testing and certification teams. We will provide you with our staff and managers’ contact information to ensure your needs are met. Emails, office phones, and mobile phones – we are there for you. Our testing team usually responds to emails on the same day, though certainly within 1 business day.  We also understand that more complex queries are handled best via telephone, and can usually accommodate a call/WebEx meeting within 1-2 business days of the request.

Q:  Are you going to refer us to a webinar or watch a canned video if we have a question? Because our situation is unique…

A:  Our sentiments exactly. While we do have general purpose guidance information, we know that most often the burning questions arise out of specific or unique situations, and despite all the federal efforts to standardize the healthcare system we recognize no two organizations or EHR technology are alike. That’s why if your question isn’t answered in our guidance material, we want you to be able to reach a live person to get the answers you need.  We will provide you with our staff and managers’ contact information to ensure your needs are met. Emails, office phones, and mobile phones – we are there for you. Our testing team usually responds to emails on the same day, though certainly within 1 business day.  We also understand that more complex queries are handled best via telephone, and can usually accommodate a call/WebEx meeting within 1-2 business days of the request.

Q:  So what kinds of resources are available to help us prepare for the certification test?

A: We have customized test scripts that map to the ONC test procedures, with concise step-by-step instructions and clearly designated expected results. Additionally, in those test scripts we have embedded hyperlinks that provide the latest guidance specific to each criterion with FAQs, references to the Final Rule, tips for successfully testing that criterion, common pitfalls to avoid, etc. These guidance materials are continually updated based on information coming from ONC, test tool developers, and the combined experiences and feedback of our staff and customers who have gone through the program already.

Q:  How do your Test Scripts differ from CCHIT’s or another lab’s? 

A: The ICSA Labs Test Script is an all-inclusive document which contains links to guidance, original ONC test data/procedures, reformatted test data and setup instructions.  Our test script has received a number of positive comments from customers who have used other test labs previously and we believe you’ll also find them user-friendly.  The customized test script does not deviate from the ONC Test Procedure or Test Data requirements, but does put that information in easy-to-understand terms and formats.  ICSA Labs is happy to provide you with a sample of our test script so you can get a sense of the layout; please talk to our Account Manager for more information.  

Q: How long do we have to test our product after signing up? 90 days?

A:  ICSA Labs feels that our customers benefit from being able to review our guidance materials, practice with our custom test scripts, and have the time they need to ensure all questions are answered and requirements are clarified in order to have a smooth testing experience. You will have one year to complete all certification and testing activities after signing up. If you know you have development work ahead of you, it makes sense to sign up now to get access to our highly qualified test team, as well as our guidance materials and test scripts, so you can ensure your time and resources are invested properly.

Q:  Can our 2011 Edition certified product still be used for 2014 Edition gap certification? We were notified that this option expired on 12/31/13.

A:  Yes, your 2011 Edition product can still be used to apply for 2014 Edition gap certification. Contact our team to find out more details about the criteria eligible for gap certification and how to complete that process.

Product Certification and Maintenance

Q:  Once we get certified, can you help promote our certification?

A:  We are committed to supporting the achievements of our customers. You can work with our PR and marketing teams to ensure that your news is featured on our website and social media networks. We also will review and polish your press announcements to ensure that they meet the ONC guidelines and accurately reflect your achievement.

Q:  How does ICSA Labs approach product updates?

A:   Our philosophy with regards to product updates is that we want to see developers improving and enhancing their systems because everyone benefits from that. We don’t want developers to refrain from rolling out an update because they feel they will need to have their product completely retested. We do our best to preserve the integrity of the certification awarded while simultaneously providing a streamlined, hassle-free product update process. A rule of thumb is if the product update changes do not impact or impair previously tested and certified modules, retesting may be unnecessary.  Part of the product update process involves describing and attesting to the changes in the system and providing evidence (e.g. high-level change logs, release notes, screen shots, etc.) to support this attestation.  Our Certification Body will evaluate your documentation and determine whether retesting is necessary before the new product version may achieve certification.

Q: What is the cost for a product update?

A:   ICSA Labs offers 2 product updates at no charge. After that, the cost is $1,000 per update. Additional fees are assessed if an update incurs retesting. If you are transitioning your product listing from CCHIT, you still get 2 product updates for free. If you know you will be submitting a high volume of product updates, we can work with you to find a cost-effective solution.

Q:  Is it possible to rebrand/white label my product, and what does that cost?

A:   Rebranding/white labeling certified products is permissible by ONC. The cost of rebranding is $2,000 per product. Contact our team to obtain a Product Rebranding form if you are interested in starting that process.

Q:  Do you charge for surveillance?

A:  No, the cost of surveillance to maintain your product is included with your certification fees. In order to maintain your product, you must adhere to the ONC requirements and respond to surveillance requests, which may include product surveys, customer surveys, as well as retesting requests to ensure the product continues to maintain compliance with the certification criteria requirements. We try to ease the burden on our customers whenever possible, however there are certain surveillance conditions required by our ANSI accreditation (ISO standards), as well as by the federal regulations to which we must adhere. If a product fails surveillance retesting, additional charges may be incurred, but otherwise there are no charges for surveillance or to maintain your product.

AttachmentSize
ICSA Labs - FAQ_02112014_FINAL.pdf531.08 KB