ONC team lays out transition to permanent EHR certification program

The certification team from ONC addressed HIMSS12 attendees on Feb. 22, delivering details on the agency’s efforts to move toward a permanent certification program for EHRs.

Steven Posnack, director of ONC’s Federal Policy Division, was notably absent from the presentation, presumably occupied with steerage of the Stage 2 proposed rule into releasable form.

Doug Fridsma, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Interoperability, said his group’s underlying mission is to modernize the way the U.S. healthcare system delivers value. “It’s about accelerating meaningful use, protecting information, and keeping patients safe,” he explained. “It’s about getting information in electronic form and getting it moving.”

Fridsma continued, “While we’re doing this, we need to promote standards and interoperability, stimulate innovation, and help providers take the tools they’ve been given and apply them to the care of patients.”

He added, “We’re working with our partners who are early adopters of this technology, and we’re here to promote understanding that there is not a one-size-fits-all [solution]. The beauty of having a portfolio is that you can select the right tool for the right task.”

Carol Bean, director of the certification division of ONC, said the temporary EHR certification currently in place will  “sunset” with the publication of the Stage 2 final rule, which is expected to be in effect by the end of August 2012. EHR vendors engaged in the temporary program will have 60 days from the sunset date to wrap up their testing.

The permanent certification program will roll into place from that point forward with a testing lab component separate from certification bodies.

Bean said ONC has certified more than 1,700 EHRs to date, with about an equal number being complete and modular systems. She pointed out that nearly twice as many ambulatory EHRs have been certified as compared to certified inpatient systems.

She acknowledged that the CHPL, ONC’s directory of certified EHRs, “will undergo a very heavy re-do” with an improved user interface, enhanced search and filter capabilities, and data download and reporting functions.

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