HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has published in the Federal Register a proposed rule creating a disciplinary and removal process for a key organization in the federal health information technology incentive payment program.
ONC adds disciplinary measures to EHR accreditor rules
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 vested with the ONC the authority to establish a program that would certify vendors' health information technology systems as capable of letting providers meet the stimulus law's meaningful-use requirements. Providers have to demonstrate that they are meaningfully using a certified electronic health-record system in order to be eligible for federal IT incentive payments.
Last year, the ONC published final rules for naming, on a temporary basis, combined accreditation bodies and certification bodies. In January, it issued a final rule that provided for the creation by the end of this year of a separate accreditor organization and potentially multiple certification organizations.
But, according to the ONC, the final rule to create the lone approved accreditor did not provide a mechanism for the ONC "to remove or take other corrective action" in the event of its "misconduct or failure to perform its responsibilities."
The new rule also proposes to address the status of ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies—as the organizations that test and certify EHR systems are formally called—in instances where there may be a change in the accreditation organization.
According to the proposed rule, misconduct could range from failing to conform with ISO guidelines to "false, fraudulent, or abusive activities" that would undermine the integrity of the program. Disciplinary action could include suspension or removal of the organization under the propose rule.
The public comment period on the proposed rule runs through Aug. 1.
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