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How to Choose the Best Health IT Testing and Certification Partner

How to Choose the Best Health IT Testing and Certification Partner

As a Health IT developer, you know how important it is to ensure your products are tested and certified to the latest Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) standards. Choosing the right testing and certification partner for your organization is vital.

An ONC-Authorized Test Lab (ONC-ATL) and ONC-Authorized Certification Body (ONC-ACB) assist your organization in ensuring your products meet the necessary standards. With a few ATL/ACBs available on the market today, how do you choose the one that’s best for your organization?

This article explores what to consider when selecting the best ATL/ACB to support your company and product certification process. This article also outlines key criteria to consider during selection–from certifying professionals with deep expertise in both technology and federal regulations, proven success supporting clients through regulatory revisions, and more–so you can confidently identify the ideal testing & certification partner for your health IT product.

You’ve prioritized ONC certification—now what?

Compliance certification can be a long, complex process. Once you’ve decided to begin the certification process, many decisions must be made—including choosing the right ATL/ACB.

Today’s world of mobile technology, electronic health records, data exchange, data security risks, and ever-changing standards makes continuous compliance efforts a requirement. In the healthcare industry, certification is a crucial and often mandatory component of any successful organization or product.

Although the process can be resource-heavy and challenging, it is a necessary step toward ensuring the safety of sensitive health data. Once you have decided to pursue certification, it is essential to choose the right ATL/ACB to guide you through the process. Not all ATLs or ACBs are created equal. Selecting an ATL/ACB that is an organizational fit can make a significant difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of your certification process. Choose an organization that is reputable, experienced, and has longevity in the health IT industry.

All ATL/ACB’s are accredited to the same standard

ONC-ATL and ONC-ACB accreditation certifies a company meets strict quality standards and has proven it can produce reliable and accurate test results. This means that the outcome of any test performed by an accredited laboratory can be expected to be equally relevant and accurate, regardless of the location or type of laboratory. Accreditation provides assurance that the laboratory has been thoroughly evaluated by experts in the field and that it operates with a high level of quality and competence.

It is imperative that laboratories remain in good standing and ensure their accreditation is current to ensure that the results they produce are trustworthy and dependable.

How to assess organizational fit

When assessing organizational fit for Health IT and ONC-specific certifications, you should partner with a company with a proven track record. Consider the following:

  • What is the company’s ONC-specific experience?
  • How long have they supported interoperability standards and the ONC certification process?
  • Do they consider themselves a leader in the market, and why?

You want to work with a team that understands the comprehensive processes, including ongoing compliance support to address rule changes and annual attestation requirements. Dedicated and experienced test proctors are essential for success, and they should be able to provide ongoing support.

It’s also helpful to know how many health IT certifications they have previously provided, as not all testing and certification processes are created equal. You need a partner with specific ONC experience who can provide informative, expert, and accurate support throughout the certification process. You can further assess organizational fit by focusing on the ATL/ACB’s support quality, stability, and longevity in the market.

Support Quality

When selecting an ATL/ACB for testing and certification purposes, it’s essential to consider the level of support and value they provide. Cookie-cutter processes are not ideal. Ensure your ATL/ACB provides pre- and post-testing certification support.

Does the ATL/ACB provide additional support in the form of a knowledge base or portal that can aid in your onboarding process? Health IT Developers benefit from having a knowledge base to help them and their customers stay up to date with rule changes, requirements, and timelines, as well as to help them understand the impact rule changes can have on their certification status.

Consider an ATL/ACB well connected to the industry through industry affiliations and memberships (e.g., HIMSS, HL7, etc.) or participation in connectathons. An ATL/ACB should have comprehensive test scripts and offer unlimited access to an ATL with technical support throughout the development and testing phases.

Lastly, ensure your ATL/ACB representatives are fully qualified on all program criteria. Otherwise, you may be passed on to various individuals for technical support and testing, which can add complexity to the process and delay your timelines.

Stability and Longevity

When choosing an ATL/ACB for Health IT or ONC testing and certification, an important factor to consider is their stability and longevity. It’s essential to ensure your ATL/ACB has a strong track record of providing expert ONC testing and certification services.

Equally important is determining how many employees the ATL/ACB has specifically dedicated to this task and whether they have redundancy in place to prevent disruptions to service. Access to a wide range of experts is also critical as it ensures a comprehensive evaluation of the product being tested.

From a financial and logistical standpoint, it makes sense to choose an ATL/ACB who has been in the game for a while and has a team of experts dedicated solely to Health IT and ONC testing and certification.


Regarding Health IT/ONC testing and certification, you need to understand if the company’s experience includes a range of health IT developers. It’s not enough to have experience with the industry’s largest EHRs, as the needs of medium and smaller health IT developers differ.

A thorough understanding of the nuances specific to your product’s scope and company size is essential to providing effective testing and certification services that meet your unique needs.

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and increasingly relies on technology, those in the field must seek out the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals to ensure the success and safety of patient data. Choose wisely, as your ATL/ACB can significantly impact your project’s outcome.

Seek an ONC-ATL and ONC-ACB partner that has a successful track record. Drummond Group’s highly skilled and knowledgeable team has been testing healthcare technologies since 2010. Drummond has issued more ONC 2015 Edition health IT certifications than all other ACBs combined. You can trust the experts at Drummond Group.

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