ONC Rule Aims To Offer More Flexibility on EHR Certification

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT issued a new final rule on the 2014 certification criteria for electronic health records that offers more flexibility and drops proposed 2015 voluntary criteria, FierceEMR reports (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 9/10).


CMS is responsible for managing the EHR incentive programs and meaningful use, while ONC is tasked with creating and maintaining an EHR certification program.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

In February, ONC issued a proposed rule containing voluntary certification criteria for EHR systems in 2015.

The proposed 2015 certification criteria, known as the "2015 Edition," proposed:

  • Developing a way for non-meaningful use EHR systems to become certified;
  • Enhancing interoperability efforts;
  • Issuing new certification criteria on functionality for patient population filtering of clinical quality measures; and
  • Improving alignment with other HHS programs and recommendations from the Office of Inspector General (iHealthBeat, 2/24).

Details of Final Rule

In the final rule, ONC wrote that feedback on the proposed 2015 rule prompted the agency not to adopt the proposed 2015 voluntary criteria.

Instead, the agency said it will incorporate "a small subset" of the proposed 2015 voluntary criteria as "optional 2014 Edition EHR certification criteria," also known as the "2014 Edition Release 2."

In addition, ONC said the final rule contains revisions to the original 2014 edition release "that provide flexibility, clarity and enhance health information exchange."

Specifically, the "2014 Edition Release 2" includes 10 optional criteria and two revised criteria, including:

  • Changing the view/download/transmit criterion; and
  • Splitting criterion for the computerized physician order entry into three separate certification criteria.

The final rule also makes administrative changes to ONC's meaningful use EHR certification program, including:

  • Removing the "complete EHR" certification concept; and
  • Updating the standard for certification bodies authorized by ONC.

According to ONC, EHR developers will not be required to update and recertify their EHR systems and providers will not need to upgrade their EHR systems as a result of the new 2014 edition final rule (FierceEMR, 9/10).

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo in a statement said that the final rule "reflects ONC's commitment to continually improve the certification program and respond to stakeholder feedback ... provides more choices for health IT developers and their customers, including new interoperable ways to securely exchange health information" and "serves as a model for ONC to update its rules as technology and standards evolve to support innovation" (HHS release, 9/10).

Source: iHealthBeat, Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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