ONC Accepting Applications for Certification Bodies' Accreditor

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has opened a 30-day window to accept applications for organizations seeking to be the approved accreditor of certification bodies under the permanent health IT certification program, according to a Federal Register notice published Tuesday, Modern Healthcare reports.

Health care providers seeking to meet meaningful use requirements can use electronic health record systems approved by ONC's authorized testing and certification bodies. Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 2/8).

Distinction Between Temporary, Permanent Certification Programs

ONC issued the final rule on the temporary testing and certification program in June 2010 (iHealthBeat, 7/2/10).

Under the temporary program, vendors can receive certification for products designed to help health care providers meet Stage 1 requirements of the meaningful use program (iHealthBeat, 9/7/10). ONC has selected six ATCBs for this purpose (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 2/8).

In January, ONC issued a final rule to establish a permanent health IT certification program for EHR systems and modules. The permanent program separates the testing and certifying of health IT products.

The final rule stipulates that ONC will choose one organization -- the ONC-approved accreditor -- to accredit groups aiming to become a health IT certification body (iHealthBeat, 1/4).

After an entity is accredited by the ONC-AA, it can apply to become an ONC-authorized certification body (Goedert, Health Data Management, 2/8).

Application Details

Applicants looking to become the ONC-AA must provide details that include:

  • How they would track the conduct of ONC-ACBs;
  • How they would adhere to the standards that specify general requirements for entities that approve organizations such as the ONC-ACBs;
  • Their experience in evaluating how certification bodies conform with general requirements for product-certifying bodies (Government Health IT, 2/8); and
  • Procedures for responding to and investigating complaints against the ONC-ACBs.

The selected ONC-AA will serve in that role for three years and can be re-selected after a competitive process (Health Data Management, 2/8).

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