A small milestone on the road to Stage 2 meaningful use of electronic health-record systems has been passed.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has announced that it has authorized a group of ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies to certify software developers' complete and modular EHRs against its 2014 Edition of standards and certification criteria.
The 2014 Edition requirements are companions to the Stage 2 meaningful-use criteria that hospitals, office-based physicians and other “eligible professionals” will be required to meet in 2014 to receive EHR incentive payments and to ward off Medicare reimbursement penalties.
The Chicago-based Certification Commission for Health Information Technology received its notification from ONC late Friday, capping several months of adjustments to its programs for the new criteria, CCHIT spokeswoman C. Sue Reber said.
“We haven't certified anything yet, but we have received a couple of applications,” Reber said. “There are already those folks who want to be first in line.”
CCHIT earlier received approval by the American National Standards Institute to serve as a certification body and it has been accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program, an arm of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which also enables it to test EHR systems under the bifurcated program established by the ONC under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. InfoGard Laboratories, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and The Drummond Group, Austin, Texas; also announced they have similarly been approved by ONC as certification and testing bodies.
EHR vendors that submit their complete EHRs or modular EHR components to first testing and then certification under the new criteria are then eligible to have their products publicly listed by the ONC
as having passed 2014 Edition testing and certification.
“Some of these organizations have already attested to Stage 1, and in order for them to attest to Stage 2 they have to have a 2014 Edition certified product installed and in use for 90 days,” Reber said. There are two areas that will be the most challenging for vendors: testing for interoperability and the electronic transmission of quality measures, she said.
The clock starts for the Medicare incentive payment program under the Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements at the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year on Oct. 1. Hospitals then have one year in which to complete 90 consecutive days of meaningful use of an EHR or EHR system that has been tested and certified under the 2014 Edition standards and criteria. For physicians and other professionals, Stage 2 begins at the start of the calendar year, Jan. 1, 2014.
Information about accredited testing bodies can be found at the NIST website
, while information about certification bodies can be found at the ONC website