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CCHIT behavioral health workgroup ready to go

June 27, 2008
by Douglas J. Edwards, Editor-in-Chief
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Memo Keswick, MPA
In July members of the

Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology’s newly formed behavioral health electronic health record workgroup will begin developing certification criteria for software vendors' products. Leading the effort are workgroup co-chairs Memo Keswick, MPA, a senior consultant at

Estrada Consulting, Inc., and Zebulon Taintor, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the

New York University School of Medicine.

Behavioral Healthcare recently spent a few moments with Keswick to learn more about his background in behavioral healthcare IT. He has served as assistant mental health director in Merced and Butte Counties in California, with a strong role in their IT operations. Among his many other positions, he has served as:

  • the California Mental Health Directors Association's (CMHDA) representative to the Mental Health Specialty HL7 Standards Conformance Workgroup, coordinated by SAMHSA (2006 to 2007);
  • the co-chair of CMHDA's Information Technology Committee (2005 to 2007), as well as chair of its Short Doyle/Medi-Cal Billing Workgroup (2001 to 2005);
  • a charter member of the California Government Committee on Healthcare Information Technology (2006 to 2007);
  • a member of the planning committee for the California Institute for Mental Health annual IT conference (2000 to present);
  • the chair of California’s Multi-County Mental Health Software User Group (2001); and
  • the chair of the Northern California Mental Health Administrator Association (1996).

With all these leadership experiences, it’s no surprise that Keswick believes he can “provide an environment where people can really bring out the best in their thoughts.”

Keswick and Dr. Taintor will be leading the workgroup members in developing test scripts used to evaluate vendors’ products against existing standards. Sue Reber of CCHIT media relations explains, “The job of CCHIT is not to develop those standards, but it is to work on the test scripts that actually objectively test the vendors’ products to determine that, in fact, all of the certified products have met those particular standards as evidenced by the test scripts.”

During the next 12 months CCHIT will have three 30-day public comment periods, in which vendors and provider organizations can weigh in on the workgroup’s progress. “If the work goes as planned, we would be ready to launch behavioral health certification in July of 2009,” notes Reber.

For a more in-depth look at CCHIT’s role in EHR standardization and certification, see George Pashel's article in the March issue.