Kusserow’s Corner: HHS Provides Further Clarification for Certification of EHR

Health information technology (HIT) developers, providers and consumers will get more flexibility through a Final rule issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) at HHS.  The purpose of the ONC is to ensure that electronic health record (EHR) technologies meet the standards and certification criteria to allow providers and hospitals to achieve meaningful use and participate in the CMS EHR Incentive Programs. CMS manages the CMS EHR Incentive Programs and meaningful use. The CMS EHR Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) as they adopt certified EHRs and successfully achieve meaningful use. CMS establishes the meaningful use objectives and measures which EPs and EHs must achieve in order to qualify for incentive payments. The standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria establish the minimum requirements that certified EHR technologies must include to support the achievement of these objectives and measures

The Office of Certification was established to develop and oversee national programs for the certification of health information technology by the HITECH Act. HIT certification provides assurance to purchasers and other users that an EHR system offers the necessary technological capability, functionality, and security to help them meet meaningful use objectives and measures.  Certification also gives providers and patients confidence that the HIT products and systems they use are secure and can work with other systems to share information (interoperability).

The Final rule is designed to add flexibility as well as clarity and improvements to the current 2014 Edition EHR certification criteria and the ONC HIT Certification Program through a new “release” of optional and revised criteria. In effect, the certification criteria and program updates included in the new release under the Final rule were proposed earlier this year; in response to public comments received, the Final rule provides alternative certification criteria and approaches for the voluntary certification of HIT.

Richard P. Kusserow served as DHHS Inspector General for 11 years. He currently is CEO of Strategic Management Services, LLC (SM), a firm that has assisted more than 3,000 organizations and entities with compliance related matters. The SM sister company, CRC, provides a wide range of compliance tools including sanction-screening.

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Copyright © 2014 Strategic Management Services, LLC. Published with permission.