Final Rule on EHR Certification Programs Imminent

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its review of the Proposed Establishment of Certification Programs for Health Information Technology final rule on June 14, 2010, so publication in the Federal Register is imminent.  This final rule explains the proposed establishment of certification programs for voluntary certification of health information technology, as specified in section 3001(c)(5) of the HITECH Act, which is available on the hipaa.com site.  This final rule is a follow-on to the proposed rule of the same title that was published in the Federal Register on March 10, 2010 (75 Federal Register 11327-11373), the summary of which appears below.

“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.” (75 Federal Register 11328) [emphasis added]

As the incentive programs for Medicare begin in 2011 and for Medicaid perhaps as early as the beginning of FY 2011 in October 2010, it is likely that the final rule relates to the temporary certification program as described in the bolded portion of the summary above.  (20100616)

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