A void that has existed for testing and certifying computer software systems for managing physician office practices is about to be filled by two organizations that are jointly creating a program.
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange
, a healthcare collaborative to promote health information exchange, and the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission
, historically a WEDI offshoot as a standards development organization and accreditation body for healthcare networks, have announced a Practice Management System Accreditation Program for testing and certifying software as compliant with guidelines for “privacy, security, mandated standards and operating rules, and key operational functions,” according to a release
. Those include standards transactions and code sets for “administrative simplification” under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
More than 400 practice-management systems are in use today; none have been independently tested and certified, according to the release.
“This is groundbreaking,” said Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for the Medical Group Management Association. “The vendors will no longer be able to hide behind the fact that they are not covered entities under HIPAA. So we'll have a bright light shined on them (if) they can't meet the administration simplification requirements.”
Testing and certification could force developers to make major improvements in their systems, from a customer's perspective, even if they include “simple things, like checking patient eligibility,” Tennant said.
“So many practices are forced to pick up a phone,” Tennant said. They need to know insurance co-pays and deductibles immediately. Electronic funds transfer and electronic remittance advice capabilities “are huge opportunities” for savings, workflow and cash flow improvement, he said.
According to WEDI CEO Devin Jopp, among the early testing criteria will be compliance with the federally mandated International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision of diagnostic and procedural codes, which go into nationwide use Oct. 1.
“We are actually hoping the program will be ready by mid July with our first organizations as beta testers,” Jopp said.Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn