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ONC Issues Final Rule to Establish the Temporary Certification Program for Electronic Health Record Technology

Posted Jun 21 2010 7:59am
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on June 18 issued a final rule to establish a temporary certification program for electronic health record (EHR) technology. The temporary certification program establishes processes that organizations will need to follow in order to be authorized by the National Coordinator to test and certify EHR technology.

Use of “certified EHR technology” is a core requirement for providers who seek to qualify to receive incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs provisions authorized in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. HITECH was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will soon issue final regulations to implement the EHR incentive programs.

Certification is used to provide assurance and confidence that a product or service will work as expected and will include the capabilities for which it was purchased. EHR technology certification does just that: It assures health care 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.

On March 10, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled Proposed Establishment of Certification Programs for Health Information Technology. The NPRM proposed the establishment of two certification programs for purposes of testing and certifying EHRs —one temporary and one permanent. The temporary certification program final rule issued today will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The final rule for the permanent certification program is expected to be published this fall.

“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 electronic health records, qualify for the payment incentives, and begin to use EHRs in a way that will improve quality and efficiency in our health care system,” said David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., national coordinator for health information technology. “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.”

This final rule is issued under the authority provided to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in section 3001(c)(5) of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) as added by the HITECH Act.

For more information about the temporary certification program and rule, please visit http://healthit.hhs.gov/certification.

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