Unravelling EHR CertificationJun 23rd, 2010 | By EHRExpert | Category: Meaningful Use
Providers and patients must be confident that the electronic health information technology (health IT) products and systems they use are secure, can maintain data confidentially, can work with other systems to share information, and can p
erform a set of well-defined functions. To this end, standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for health IT are being established by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC.)
Like CMS, ONC has also engaged public comment through formal rule making to inform these standards and criteria. In January 2010, ONC published an interim final rule on the standards and certification criteria. They have also published a proposed rule on the processes the National Coordinator would take to authorize organizations to perform the certification of health information technology. ONC accepted public comments and are currently working on finalizing both rules for release in late spring/early summer 2010.
How Certification is related to the EHR Incentive Programs
The EHR Incentive Programs require the use of certified EHR technology, as established by these new set of standards. Existing EHR technology needs to be certified to meet these new criteria in order to qualify for the incentive payments.
NOTE: Currently, there are no certified EHR products that meet the certification requirements for this program in order to receive an incentive.
Timing of Certified EHR Technology for the EHR Incentive Program
Once released, certification bodies will be established to test and certify EHR technology for the EHR incentive programs. In addition, vendors will definitively know the standards and criteria for certified EHR technology, and they can make adjustments to their products to include the required specifications if their products do not already include them. Upon the “opening” of the certifying bodies, vendors can submit their EHR products to be tested and certified. Hospitals and practices who have developed their own EHR systems can also seek to have their existing systems tested and certified. Complete EHRs may be certified as well as EHR modules that meet at least one of the certification criterions. Once a product is certified, it will be published on the ONC web site. This is expected to start in fall 2010.
REMEMBER: You do not have to have your certified EHR in place by the launch of the program in order to participate.
Resources to Help in Adoption and Use of EHRs
ONC has provided grants to local entities, called Regional Extension Centers, to provide technical assistance for small-sized physician practices public and critical access hospitals, community health centers, and other settings that predominantly serve uninsured, underinsured, and medically under-served populations in both adopting certified EHR technology and meeting the upcoming definition of meaningful use to qualify for the incentive payments. Information to find a local Regional Extension Center can be found in the Links Outside CMS section below. Other programs to help providers include the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement program, the Beacon Community Program , and the National Health Information Technology Research Center, where communities of practice are being established to help providers share information, best practices and resources. Information can be found in the related Links Outside CMS section below.