ONC Extends Temporary EHR Certification Program Until Summer 2012

Posted by: EHR Analyst

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According to a notice published on November 3 2011 in the Federal Register, National Health Information Technology Coordinator Farzad Mostashari, M.D., has delayed implementation of the permanent electronic health records meaningful use certification program until at least the summer of 2012.

On June 24, 2010, ONC had published a final rule to establish a temporary certification program for health information technology to ensure that Certified EHR Technology was available for adoption and use by eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs beginning in 2011.

On January 7, 2011, ONC published a final rule to establish a permanent certification program to replace the temporary certification program (which was to sunset on December 31, 2011), or if the permanent certification program is not fully constituted at that time, then upon a subsequent date that is determined to be appropriate by the National Coordinator.

The permanent program was scheduled to start in January 2012, but existing rules give ONC the authority to move the date if the program isn't ready. Six companies have been accredited to conduct certifications under the temporary program, but ONC does not envision having sufficient numbers of certification entities selected and ready for the permanent program until summer 2012.

ONC in June selected the American National Standards Institute as the ONC-Approved Accreditor (ONC-AA) under the permanent program. Once an entity is accredited by the ONC-AA, it then can apply to ONC to become an ONC-Authorized Certification Body, or ONC-ACB. The Office of the National Coordinator anticipates the permanent program will have around six ONC-ACBs.

"We believe that the sunset of the temporary certification program should be tied to the effective data of the final rule that we intend to issue in Summer 2012, which is expected to adopt new and revised standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHR technology in support of the next stage of meaningful use under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs," according to the notice. "We believe aligning the sunset of the temporary certification program with the effective date of this forthcoming final rule would provide certainty to health care providers, EHR technology developers and other stakeholders, while also ensuring a sufficient number of accredited testing laboratories and ONC-ACBs exist to meet market demand."

For more information:
- read the Health Data Management article

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