HHS Releases Proposed Rule for EHR Certification

Andrea Kraynak, for HealthLeaders Media , March 2, 2010

HHS announced the release of the proposed rule for establishing certification programs for health information technology today. The proposed rule describes the creation of a certification program for EHRs, as mandated by the HITECH Act.

EHR certification is designed to "give purchasers and users of EHR technology assurances that the technology and products have the necessary functionality and security to help meet meaningful use criteria," according to the press release.

The proposed certification program will involve two stages:

  • A temporary certification process whereby the National Coordinator would approve organizations to test and certify EHRs.

  • The eventual permanent program would transfer testing and certification to private sector organizations.

"Publication of the proposed rule on the Establishment of Certification Programs for Health Information Technology is an important first step in bringing structure and cohesion to the evaluation of EHRs, EHR modules, and potentially other types of health IT," David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, national coordinator for health information technology, said in the press release.

In response to the proposed rule, Alisa Ray, executive director of Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), said CCHIT is confident about its prospects of becoming accredited and called the announcement "an important step that will reduce the uncertainty that the healthcare community has experienced while awaiting this additional information.

"CCHIT has four years of experience testing and certifying EHRs, and promptly adapting our testing to the latest federal standards. We have also been benchmarking our operations against best practices for certifying bodies, including the ISO/IEC accreditation standards, and we are well prepared. We plan to file an application with ONC as soon as they are ready to accept them."

Andrea Kraynak, CPC, is senior managing editor of Medical Records Briefing and HIM Connection. She may be reached at akraynak@hcpro.com.

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