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Blumenthal Unveils Final Step in Overhauled EHR Certification Process

ONC Head David Blumenthal, Photo: hhs.gov

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has put the finishing touches on creating a permanent health IT certification program.

Going forward, “meaningful use” of electronic health records technology will be a “core requirement” for healthcare providers in order to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentives, according to a final rule published by the Health and Human Services Department.

The final rule also cements into place a key measure of the HITECH Act.

According to HHS, the new rule published Monday increases the comprehensiveness and efficiency of the current EHR-certification process. The new rule will be rolled out throughout 2011.

The new requirements:

§  Organizations must first be accredited in order to test and/or certify health information technology.

§  Certification bodies must be approved by ONC and are required to conduct post-certification surveillance.

§  Certification bodies are given the OK perform “gap certification,” if testing criteria are changed.

The final rule completes a two-phased process that began with a proposed rule in the spring, which along the way, picked up “several important improvements to our certification process,” said ONC Coordinator David Blumenthal.

“Our goal is to make the transition to the permanent certification program as seamless as possible,” he added.

FierceEMR reports the new rule provides clarity to the confusion surrounding meaningful use of electronic health records technology and “makes clear exactly what is expected of potential electronic medical record testing bodies.”

However, the increased clarity also means organizations that have been granted certification powers under interim EHR rules will also have to re-apply for certifying authority under the final rule.

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