The Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology with
the Department of Health and Human Services (ONCHIT) has released a proposed
rule for the establishment of certification programs for Electronic Health
Record (EHR) technology.
The proposed rule sets forth the process by which the national coordinator
can authorize organizations to become certification bodies that may test and
certify complete EHRs and/or EHR modules. The proposed rule outlines a temporary
and a permanent approach for establishing certification programs to test and
certify EHRs. The temporary program would sunset once the permanent program is
established and at least one certification body has been authorized by the
The temporary program would establish a process by which an organization
would become an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB). Under
the temporary program, the national coordinator would assume many of the
responsibilities it has proposed to be fulfilled by the private sector under the
permanent program. For the permanent program, ONCHIT is proposing a process by
which an organization would become an ONC-Authorized Certification Body (ONC-ACB).
Phase two will transition much of the responsibility for testing and
certification to organizations in the private sector.
This proposed rule is the third rule that has been proposed or promulgated
related to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive program. The incentive
program provides for payments to eligible professionals and eligible hospitals
participating in Medicare and Medicaid that adopt and make “meaningful use” of
certified EHR technology.
On Jan. 13, 2010, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services published in
the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking outlining the initial
criteria an eligible provider or an eligible hospital must meet in order to
qualify for incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid for the adoption and
meaningful use of certified EHR technology.
Also on Jan. 13, ONCHIT published an interim final rule setting forth the
initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification
criteria for EHR technology (the standards rule). This proposed rule signifies
the establishment of programs for the voluntary certification of health
information technology which is in compliance with the applicable
certification criteria adopted by the secretary pursuant to the standards rule.
The temporary and permanent certification programs are set forth within the
same proposed rule. However, the final rule for each will likely be published
separately. Comments for the temporary program or the first phase for the
certification program have already been accepted, and comments related to the
permanent program are due May 10, 2010.