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Washington Debrief: ONC, CMS Launch “Test EHRs”

January 21, 2014
by Jeff Smith, Director of Public Policy at CHIME
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Jeff Smith, Director of Public Policy at CHIME

ONC Issues Guides to Bolster Safety through Health IT

Key Takeaway: The Office for the National Coordinator for Health IT has released a set of tools to improve safety and quality through health IT. A set of nine “SAFER Guides” enables providers to perform self-assessments and develop customized improvement plans.

Why it Matters: The SAFER Guides were a component of ONC’s Patient Safety Surveillance and Action Plan, signaling the agency’s intent to see the plan become reality. CIOs are encouraged to examine the SAFER Guides and determine the extent of their usefulness. CHIME will play an active role in the Guides’ evolution, with input from member feedback.

ONC released the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides last week. The guides are a suite of tools that include checklists, worksheets and recommended best practices designed to help healthcare providers assess and optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs. Developed by leading health IT safety and informatics researchers and based on the latest available evidence, expert opinion, stakeholder engagement, and field work, each SAFER Guide addresses a critical area associated with the safe use of EHRs. Topics include:

  • High Priority Practices
  • Organizational Responsibilities
  • Patient Identification
  • Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) with Decision Support
  • Test Results Review and Follow-up
  • Clinician Communication
  • Contingency Planning
  • System Interfaces
  • System Configuration

ONC believes the release of the SAFER Guides mark an important milestone in the implementation of their Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan. In their July 2013 plan, ONC said the SAFER Guides would “provide a foundation from which to develop additional evidence-based tools and interventions as knowledge of health IT safety continues to improve.” The SAFER Guides also are intended to meet several recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in their 2011 report.

CMS, ONC Announce ‘Test EHR’ Up and Running

Key Takeaway: Providers who opt to use a “test EHR” to fulfill transition of care requirements may now do so.

Why it Matters: Eligible professionals and eligible hospitals must send a Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (CCDA) care summary record to a provider using a different system to meet the third transition of care requirement. Now, EPs and EHs have the option of sending a CCDA care summary record to the Test EHR.

In an announcement made recently, ONC and CMS have launched “Test EHRs” for providers to fulfill transition of care requirements under Meaningful Use. Under Stage 2 of Meaningful Use transition of care objective measure No. 3, EPs (click here) and EHs (click here) must either:


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