The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today issued proposals for the next edition (the “2015 Edition”) of electronic health record (EHR) technology certification criteria.
This proposed rule marks the first time ONC has proposed an edition of certification criteria separate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ “meaningful use” regulations. The proposals represent ONC’s new regulatory approach that includes more incremental and frequent rulemaking. This approach allows ONC to update certification criteria more often to reference improved standards, continually improve regulatory clarity, and solicit comments on potential proposals as a way to signal ONC’s interest in a particular topic area.
“The proposed 2015 Edition EHR certification criteria reflect ONC’s commitment to incrementally improving interoperability and efficiently responding to stakeholder feedback,” said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., national coordinator for health IT. “We will continue to focus on setting policy and adopting standards that make it possible for health care providers to safely and securely exchange electronic health information and for patients to become an integral part of their care team.”
Compliance with the 2015 Edition would be voluntary – EHR developers that have certified EHR technology to the 2014 Edition would not need to recertify to the 2015 Edition for customers to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Similarly, health care providers eligible to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs would not need to “upgrade” to EHR technology certified to 2015 Edition to have EHR technology that meets the Certified EHR Technology definition. “This provides the opportunity for developers and health care providers to move to the 2015 Edition on their own terms and at their own pace,” said Dr. DeSalvo.
The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on Feb. 26, 2014. ONC will accept comments on the proposed rule through April 28, 2014. The final rule is expected to be issued in summer 2014.