Health Groups Respond to ONC's 2015 EHR Certification Proposal

In a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the American Hospital Association raised concerns about a proposed rule containing voluntary certification criteria for electronic health record systems in 2015, EHR Intelligence reports (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 4/29).

Background on Proposed 2015 Certification Criteria

The certification criteria propose:

  • Developing a way for non-meaningful use EHR systems to become certified;
  • Enhancing interoperability efforts;
  • Issuing new certification criteria on functionality for patient population filtering of clinical quality measures; and
  • Improving alignment with other HHS programs and recommendations from the Office of Inspector General.

The proposed rule would allow ONC to more frequently update certification criteria to reflect new standards and to offer regulatory clarity (iHealthBeat, 4/25).

Details of AHA Letter

In the letter, AHA writes that the voluntary criteria will worsen challenges providers are facing when implementing EHR systems (AHA News Now, 4/28).

It also notes that the "current regulatory pace between final rule publication and start of compliance does not match the ability of providers and vendors to adjust."

AHA recommends that ONC work with CMS to determine when eligible providers will be able to meet Stage 2 meaningful use requirements.

In addition, AHA said ONC should:

  • Ensure providers can attain current requirements before enforcing new ones;
  • Focus on advancing interoperability;
  • Include mature standards ready for provider use; and
  • Make certain regulatory requirements to not expand the "digital divide" (EHR Intelligence, 4/29).

AMA Comments

The American Medical Association also expressed concern that the proposed meaningful use program requirements do not focus on interoperability and are "overly rigid," Government Health IT reports.

In a letter to National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, AMA wrote, "The AMA firmly believes that the [meaningful use] program and certification process must be substantially overhauled so physicians can leverage technology to help ensure improvements in health care delivery." The group added, "We specifically encourage ONC to focus on more comprehensive testing along with greater transparency of these results."

TIA Comments

Meanwhile, the Telecommunications Industry Association in a separate letter wrote that while it generally supports ONC's voluntary criteria, it is concerned that increased frequency of certification cycles could cause confusion and have unintended consequences (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 4/30).

TIA also urged the agency to be more flexible for eligible providers who require hardship exemptions (Manos, Government Health IT, 4/30).

Source: iHealthBeat, Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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