Proposed 2014 EHR certification test methods released by ONC

At times overlooked in the federal government's drive to encourage meaningful use of electronic health records by eligible providers and hospitals is the caveat that the EHRs must be certified. Adding clarity to that part of the equation, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has released a second set of draft test procedures to ensure that EHRs can perform functions required in 2014.

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ONC also requested public comments and suggestions for the 2014 proposed certification test methods, according to a Sept. 14 ONC announcement. ONC released the first wave of test methods one week earlier.

The approved procedures, tools and applicable test data and files will be used by testing labs and certification organizations to verify that the EHRs can execute the specific functions or conform to the 2014 Edition of meaningful use standards, implementation specifications and criteria.

Test data are provided to make sure that the certification groups can adequately evaluate if the EHRs meet the functional and interoperability requirements in the criteria.

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The latest set of test procedures and data were for demographics, electronic notes and family history and patient list creation. The first wave included computerized provide order entry, problem list, allergy list and vital signs.

Each set of draft test procedures posted in a given wave will have a two-week comment period. ONC works with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop the tools and procedures needed to test EHRs as certification criteria changes.

ONC will invite public review and comment before all the procedures are finalized for use in testing and certification. The final set of test methods is expected to be available for use in early 2013.

The National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program in the National Institute for Standards and Technology approved five testing labs during the summer to certify EHRs under the permanent certification program. They are the Drummond Group; Certification Commission for Health IT (CCHIT); ICSA Laboratories, Inc.; InfoGard Laboratories, Inc.; and SLI Global Solutions.

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