ONC Jumpstarts Health Information Technology Programs in 2011

January 6, 2011

The ONC has issued a final rule to establish a permanent certification program for the purpose of certifying health information technology. Under the permanent certification program, organizations may obtain accreditation to certify electronic health record (EHR) technology.

The meaningful use of certified EHR technology is a core requirement for healthcare providers looking to qualify for incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. According to the ONC, the certification program is designed to enhance certification of health information technology by increasing the comprehensiveness, transparency, reliability and efficiency of current processes used to certify EHR technology.

ONC anticipates that testing and certification under the permanent certification program will begin Jan. 1, 2012. On June 24, 2010, ONC issued the Establishment of the Temporary Certification Program for Health Information Technology Final Rule. According to the ONC, the temporary certification program was designed to assure the availability of certified EHR technology prior to the date on which health care providers could seek the incentive payments and report demonstrable meaningful use of certified EHR technology. As provided in the temporary certification program rule, the temporary program will sunset on Dec. 31, 2011, or at a subsequent date if the permanent certification program is not fully constituted at that time.

ONC plans to officially publish the final rule in the Federal Register on Jan. 7, 2011. The permanent certification rule will take effect 30 days after publication. More information about the permanent certification program, including details regarding testing and certification of EHR technology, is available at the ONC’s website.