Final EHR Certification Rule Released

This week, the ONC will make applications available for organizations that want to become EHR certifying bodies.

This week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) will make applications available for organizations that want to become EHR certifying bodies, according to Government Health IT.

The ONC released on Friday its final rule for the temporary certification program, laying out how organizations must become authorized to certify EHRs. This will help vendors get their products certified in time for the 2011 deadlines for the first stage of meaningful use requirements (those criteria a product must meet to qualify for the federal incentive payments).

In March, HHS proposed establishing two certification programs - one temporary and one permanent. The temporary program will become effective when this rule is published this week in the Federal Register. The final rule for the permanent certification program (which will be more comprehensive and will replace the temporary one) is expected to be published this fall, according to HHS. The temporary program will end Dec. 31, 2011.

In July, the ONC will start accepting applications to become an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body. The ONC will list the authorized organizations on its Web site, as well as keep a list of certified health IT products.

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) has been the main organization putting their seal of approval on EHRs, and the group plans to apply for this ONC-ATCB program. “We remain confident that CCHIT will be approved as an ONC-ATCB because of our years of experience in this field and our readiness to meet the required accreditation standards. We originated EHR certification and have tested and certified hundreds of EHRs,” CCHIT Chair Karen M. Bell, MD, said in a statement.

Why again is all this important? Your EHR must be certified for you to get the federal incentive funds. It basically ensures that your system will function as you expected, so you will need to make sure your vendor’s products are certified under the right program.