HHS’ ONC Releases Proposed Rule for Temporary and Permanent HIT Certification Programs

On Wednesday, March 10, 2010, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published in the Federal Register the Proposed Rule (NPRM) for Proposed Establishment of Certification Programs for Health Information Technology.  [75 Federal Register 11327-11373]  We present the summary of the NPRM.

“SUMMARY.  Under the authority granted to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (the National Coordinator) by section 3001(c)(5) of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) as added by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH ) Act, this rule proposes the establishment of two certification programs for purposes of testing and certifying health information technology.  While two certification  programs are described in this proposed rule, we anticipate issuing separate final rules for each of the programs.  The first proposal would establish a temporary certification program whereby the National Coordinator would authorize organizations to test and certify Complete EHRs and/or EHR Modules, thereby assuring the availability of Certified EHR Technology prior to the date on which health care providers seeking the incentive payments available under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentives Program may begin demonstrating meaningful use of Certified EHR Technology.  The second proposal would establish a permanent certification program to replace the temporary certification program.  The permanent certification program would separate the responsibilities for performing testing and certification, introduce accreditation requirements, establish requirements for certification bodies authorized by the National Coordinator related to the surveillance of Certified EHR Technology, and would include the potential for certification bodies authorized by the national Coordinator to certify other types of health information technology besides Complete EHRs and EHR Modules.”

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology requests written or electronic comments on the temporary certification program for receipt no later than 5 PM on April 9, 2010, and written or electronic comments on the permanent certification program no later than 5 PM on May 10, 2010.  Detailed instructions for submitting comments can be found on page 11328 of the NPRM referenced above.

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