The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS has issued a final rule outlining a temporary program by which it will select and designate not-for-profit organizations to test and certify electronic health-record systems under the stimulus law.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus law, empowered the ONC to either "keep or recognize" a program or programs for EHR certification. In a proposed rule released in March, ONC head David Blumenthal chose not to “keep” the existing, federally supported program operated by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, but allow CCHIT to apply along with other entities seeking to become certifications bodies under a newly created federal recognition process. The March proposed rule called for two EHR certification processes, one temporary and one permanent.
The final rule released today deals with the temporary process in which both testing and certification can be performed by a single entity. It will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. A copy of the 206-page new rule is now posted on HHS' website.
A companion final rule for the permanent certification program is expected to be published this fall, according to the ONC statement.
"By purchasing certified EHR technology, hospitals and eligible professionals and hospitals will be able to make EHR purchasing decisions knowing that the technology will allow them to become meaningful users of electronic health records, qualify for the payment incentives and begin to use EHRs in a way that will improve quality and efficiency in our healthcare system," Blumenthal said in a news statement. "We hope that all HIT stakeholders view this rule as the federal government's commitment to reduce uncertainty in the health IT marketplace and advance the successful implementation of EHR incentive programs."