Dr. Farzad Mostashari, outgoing head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, told an audience of more than 1,000 listeners of a webinar and call-in session this morning, that he wants to establish a certification program for these other types of providers. “We're going to move ahead with seeing what the scope should be and probably staking kind of small, for a voluntary, and I emphasize voluntary, certification program” for LTPAC and BH, Mostashari said.
In 2004, Dr. David Brailer, the first ONC chief, called for creation of a voluntary certification program to overcome would-be EHR buyer's reticence to purchase systems due to uncertainty about their quality. As a result, the not-for-profit Certification Commission for Health Information Technology was created to perform those early EHR system tests.
EHR vendors are paid for the testing and certification of their systems to make them more salable. Systems not tested and certified are ineligible for use in the federal incentive program—a far stronger inducement to vendors to go to the trouble and expense of testing than in the past.
Wednesday's webinar was held to discuss the reaction of government officials to public feedback received from a formal request for information HHS issued in March on how to improve interoperability.
In that request for input, the feds pointed out that 4 in 10 hospitals were sending lab and radiology information to outside providers, but only 1 in 4 were exchanging medication lists and clinical summaries.
Meanwhile, only 6% of long-term acute-care hospitals, 4% of rehabilitation hospitals and 2% of psychiatric hospitals had even a basic EHR.
In addition to the proposed new certification program, Mostashari said the government needs to do a better job communicating with the public about its “roadmap” for achieving interoperability. The feds also will work toward creating “open source took kits” for the development of a hospital alert system for admissions, discharges and transfers that will automatically notify a patient's primary care physician when any of those three events occur.
Mostashari said he also hoped the regional health IT extension centers created under the ARRA to boost EHR adoption will broaden their focus to include helping providers with achieving health information exchange.
The ONC and the CMS also jointly issued a 14-page guidance (PDF) on “Principles and Strategy for Accelerating Health Information Exchange.”
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