To help the nation’s healthcare industry transition into the digital age in an effective and meaningful fashion, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has published approved procedures for testing IT systems that work with electronic health records.
Released in draft form earlier this year, the approved and finalized testing procedures are now available for use.
Under a certification program established by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator, testing organizations authorized by HHS/ONC can use the tools to appraise EHR software and systems vendors would like to sell to doctor’s offices, hospitals and other healthcare providers. Starting next year, the federal government will provide extra Medicare and Medicaid payments to healthcare providers who adopt EHR systems certified to meet ONC requirements that adhere to technical standards and are put to meaningful use.
These ONC-approved test procedures help ensure EHRs function properly and work interchangeably across systems developed by different vendors. The set of 45 approved test procedures evaluate components of EHRs, including their encryption, how they plot and display growth charts, and how they control access.
The development of these tools was mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support a health IT infrastructure.