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ONC Finalizes New EHR Certification Criteria

September 10, 2014
by Gabriel Perna and David Raths
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has finalized a new release of the current 2014 Edition electronic health record (EHR) certification criteria, aiming to make it easier for health IT developers, providers, and consumers.

The update of the 2014 Edition electronic health record (EHR) certification criteria includes the splitting of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) capabilities into three optional criteria (medications, laboratory, and diagnostic imaging); the adding of an additional transitions of care (TOC) criterion focused on summary care record creation; easing the transmit requirements of view, download, and transmit and the transmission of syndromic surveillance to public health agencies.  

The ONC is also discontinuing the “Complete EHR” certification concept in future editions. Authorized certification bodies will no longer be required to use these certifications starting at the next adopted edition of certification criteria.

“This final rule reflects ONC’s commitment to continually improve the certification program and respond to stakeholder feedback. It provides more choices for health IT developers and their customers, including new interoperable ways to securely exchange health information. It also serves as a model for ONC to update its rules as technology and standards evolve to support innovation,” Karen DeSalvo, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, said in a statement.

During the Sept. 10 Health IT Standards Committee meeting, Steve Posnack, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Technology, spoke about the approach signaled by the second release of the rule. “We hope the 2014 Edition Release 2 Final Rule, which has a very narrow scope and a specific scope in addressing a few key issues, can serve as a model for how ONC can update our rules as technology and standards evolve.” He said ONC hopes that it can “with more precision update our rules and include a narrowly tailored rulemaking in the future that could subsequently be a ‘release’ of a more stable overall edition, as a way for us to gradually update our certification criteria over time.”

Posnack also noted that ONC would change the naming structure for certifications from the year the certification would be required to be in use to the year the rule was initially published. So if the certifications required for 2017 is published in 2015, it will be called the 2015 certification rule, and a subsequent incremental change would be 2015 Edition, Release 2.

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