ONC issues final rule to establish temporary certification program for EHR technology

June 19, 2010

June 18 – The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today 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.

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.

For more information about other HHS Recovery Act Health Information Technology funding and programs, see http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/programs/index.html#Health.

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