The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a final rule June 18 establishing a certification program for health information technology. The rule describes the temporary certification program for EHRs, and what organizations need to do to be authorized to test and certify EHR technology.
"[EHR technology certification] assures healthcare providers that the EHR technology they adopt has been tested and includes the required capabilities they need in order to use the technology in a meaningful way to improve the quality of care provided to their patients," according to the June 18 HHS press release.
The rule specifically establishes a temporary certification program that will help ensure the availability of certified technology prior to October, when some providers become eligible for EHR meaningful use incentive payments. It also states that a permanent program that will eventually replace the temporary one, according to the ONC website.
To qualify for incentive payments organizations must use certified technology per the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provisions. The program was authorized in the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The final rule takes effect June 24, when it will be published in the Federal Register. The ONC expects to release the permanent certification program final rule later this fall, according to the press release.
"By purchasing certified EHR technology, hospitals and eligible professionals and hospitals will be able to make EHR purchasing decisions knowing that the technology will allow them to become meaningful users of EHRs, qualify for the payment incentives, and begin to use EHRs in a way that will improve quality and efficiency in our health care system," David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, stated in the press release. "We hope that all HIT stakeholders view this rule as the federal government's commitment to reduce uncertainty in the health IT marketplace and advance the successful implementation of EHR incentive programs."
CMS expects to soon release two final regulations to implement the EHR incentive programs. For coverage when CMS releases the regulations, visit the HCPro.com website. In addition, listen to the July 29 audio conference, "EHR Meaningful Use Final Rules: Practical Approaches to Ensure Incentive Eligibility" for in-depth analysis of all three rules.