Federal officials issued the first set of voluntary standards under a new process that will give companies that develop electronic health-record systems
more notice about what requirements will be included in the federal rules governing their products.
HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT issued a proposed rule Friday
intended to address criticisms that the agency hasn't been allowing healthcare providers and software vendors enough time to adapt to the evolving rules.
That lag time has already caused the CMS to push back some deadlines
in its incentive program to get healthcare providers to adopt EHRs.
The new process would allow the ONC
to update the standards every 12 to 18 months, but the rules would be voluntary—no providers or EHR vendors would be required to meet them as a condition of proving meaningful use of subsidized EHR technology.
Rather, the development of voluntary rules is intended as a signal to the industry about the types of requirements that the CMS may eventually include in the mandatory meaningful-use certification standards.
The proposed rules “reflect ONC's commitment to incrementally improving interoperability and efficiently responding to stakeholder feedback,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT. Follow Joe Carlson on Twitter: @MHJCarlson