A proposed rule establishing a temporary certification program for testing and certifying health IT systems in order for providers to meet deadlines to receive stimulus law funding was announced by David Blumenthal, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, during the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Atlanta.
ONC announces proposed IT certification program
In addition, it was also announced that a permanent accreditation program for certification bodies would be established at a later date.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stipulates that healthcare providers seeking to receive subsidies for investments they make in health information technology must be using a certified electronic health-record system. To receive certification, an EHR would have to meet certain criteria for technological capability, functionality and security. At this time, however, no certification program or agency exists to fulfill this part of the law.
Steve Posnack, policy analyst for the ONC who presented details of the bifurcated programs to a packed HIMSS ballroom, said there will be a 30-day public comment period on the temporary certification program, with a final rule expected by late spring. The first vendor EHRs could be certified under the temporary program by summer, Posnack said.
Vendors of EHR systems could be breathing a sigh of relief, but, “It would be a 75% sigh,” said Jamie Skipper, president of Skipper Congressional Strategies, a Washington-based policy advisory, who works for the Electronic Health Record Association at HIMSS.
“This was the big question hanging over the conference,” Skipper said. “It still remains to be seen how timely the certification bodies can conform to these criteria, and the vendors can meet these criteria to have products ready for their customers.”
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