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Systems shut down
ONC revokes firm's EHR certifications

By Joe Carlson
Posted: April 27, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

For the first time, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS revoked certifications for electronic health-record systems, raising troubling questions about how physicians and hospitals should react if the government nixes a system they are already using.

Federal officials require that doctors and hospitals use certified EHR systems to receive federal money to defray the cost of converting to EHRs. Last week, the ONC said it decided to revoke certifications for two products on the market after anonymous complaints were lodged about the systems.

EHRMagic, of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., had two of its records systems shot down by the government: EHRMagic-Ambulatory and EHRMagic-Inpatient. Two people familiar with the company—Richard Gant, CEO of Innovative Healthcare Systems and chiropractor Dr. Kim Gebrosky—said they were not surprised by the development, since the firm didn't seem able to live up to its promises on the sales side of the operation several years ago.

Calls and e-mails to EHRMagic were not returned. Records with the California secretary of state list the 4-year-old company's corporate status as “suspended.”

ONC spokesman Peter Ashkenaz said no healthcare provider has “attested” to using either system, which means that no one had tried to receive federal funding to pay for their installation. Since 2011, more than 234,000 organizations and individuals have received a total of $12.7 billion in EHR incentives to install one of the 1,700 systems eligible for payments.

But an April 25 blog post from Carol Bean, director of the certification office at the ONC, made clear that the office will continue aggressive monitoring for other EHR systems that don't meet federal requirements. That includes proactive investigations and surveillance by the office, as well as inquiries that stem from tips from the public about shoddy systems.

“The doctors, hospitals and other providers that are adopting—and have already adopted—EHRs deserve this and should feel confident that the tools they are using are up to the job of helping their patients get the best care possible,” Bean wrote in the post.

Ashkenaz declined to say what a healthcare provider should do if the system it is using ends up retroactively decertified for payments, as EHRMagic's systems were.

Gant, of physician-equipment seller Innovative Healthcare in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., said the EHRMagic situation pointed to another major concern about decertification. EHRMagic sells what is known as a “cloud-based” system, meaning that patient information is stored off-site and not physically in a provider's office.

“The biggest issue is, all of your information is on their servers,” Gant said. “And if they disappear, that information could go away.”

Several years ago, Gant's firm attempted to sell EHRMagic's systems through a sales model that would have allowed it to be installed for free in exchange for eventual federal subsidies. But he said Innovative Healthcare Systems severed its relationship with EHRMagic after several initial attempts to install it failed, and sales payments were not forthcoming.

“When they weren't paying for anything and they weren't supporting clients of ours, we said goodbye,” Gant said. “I'm surprised they were even around to even be decertified.”

Follow Joe Carlson on Twitter: @MHJCarlson

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