ONC Releases Stage 2 Proposed Rule on Certification of EHRs

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On Friday, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released a proposed rule on the standards and criteria for the certification of electronic health record systems under Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, Government Health IT reports (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 2/27).

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Background

The EHR certification proposal accompanies the new proposed rule outlining requirements for health care providers attesting to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program. The Stage 2 proposal for health care providers was posted online on Feb. 23.

Both proposed rules are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on March 7, after which they will undergo a 60-day public comment period (Goedert, Health Data Management, 2/27).

Details on Standards, Criteria for EHR Certification

ONC's Stage 2 EHR certification proposal calls for vendors to ensure that their EHR systems support certain functionalities, such as:

  • Adopting a single data standard when transmitting information for certain health care transactions;
  • Enabling the exchange of electronic health data among health care providers; and
  • Providing patients with online access to their health records (Government Health IT, 2/27).

In response to public comment on Stage 1 rules, the Stage 2 proposed rule on EHR certification redefines certified EHR technology to allow for greater flexibility (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 2/27).

Under the Stage 2 proposal, EHR products can receive certification if they can help a health care provider achieve core meaningful use criteria and only the specific optional menu items selected by the health care provider (iHealthBeat, 2/23). Under the Stage 1 rule, health care providers would need to use EHR systems that were certified to meet all applicable meaningful use criteria (Modern Healthcare, 2/27).

The proposed rule also notes that ONC plans to phase out its temporary EHR certification program and transition to a permanent EHR certification program when the final Stage 2 rules are released in late summer (Government Health IT, 2/27).


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