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OntarioMD Releases Specification v2.0 for Local Solution EMRs

Posted Oct 30 2008 3:21pm

OntarioMD, the body that certifies Clinical Management Systems (EMRs) in Ontario has today released version 2.0 specifications for local solution EMR systems. The specification document can be downloaded by clicking here (.pdf document - 1MB)

"The new CMS Specification v2.0 is now available. Version 2.0 of the CMS Specification was updated from the previous CMS Local Solution Specification v1.3 to include the following components:

Local CMS Baseline Requirements – these requirements have been updated to reflect changes in standards and technology.

Data Portability Requirements – these new requirements define export-import standards including

  • (i) a CMS Core Data Set,
  • (ii) data and media format requirements for data transfer from one CMS to another; and
  • (iii) export and import event logs.

The Data Portability requirements were created by OntarioMD in collaboration with CMS Vendor representatives with certified/funding eligible offerings, ITAC/CHITTA (Information Technology Association of Canada / Canadian Healthcare Information Technology Trade Association), and OHISC (Ontario Health Informatics Standards Council). Consultations also included stakeholders such as the FHT Physician Leaders Group and Continuing Care eHealth.

CMS vendors with offerings currently certified under CMS Local Solution Specification v1.3 will be required to have their products certified under CMS Specification v2.0 before March 31st, 2008 if they wish to maintain eligibility under the Physician IT program.

The validation process associated with certification of offerings under CMS Specification v2.0 will continue to follow the "on-request" format employed since August 2006. OntarioMD will continue charging for validation services."

Link: OntarioMD.ca - CMS Certification Program.

Work is currently underway (and being led by Canada Health Infoway) to develop national EMR standards. This is critical to ensure interoperability and data transfer standards between EMR systems, to reduce the need to duplicate certification processes in each of the provinces and to ensure that a baseline level of functionality can be made available to physicians irrespective of the province in which they practice. Certification is a costly process for vendors, not just in terms of the up-front fees, but with respect to the upgrading of a product to meet those specifications.

If each vendor had to go through a separate certification process in each province in Canada [right now conformance testing or certification is required in Alberta, Ontario and (soon) British Columbia] and had to do so every 2 years, many companies would be hard pressed to fund this process, enhance and market their products and support their clients.

In my opinion, a national certification process in Canada (similar to CCHIT Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology in the US) is vital to ensure the ongoing viability of a healthy EMR vendor community.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the need for a certification process? Should this be province specific or should there be a national process so that systems can be certified for use in all provices by meeting a basic standard?

To add your thoughts, click on the 'Comments' link. 

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