Proposed Certification Changes Could Mean Uptick in Modular EHRs

A proposed meaningful use rule could prompt more eligible professionals and hospitals to use modular software, as opposed to a "complete" electronic health record system, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 8/21).


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

In March, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria proposed rule (iHealthBeat, 3/20).

Among other changes, ONC called for vendors to use an all-modular testing and certification system and proposed discontinuing the use of the complete EHR testing and certification definition.

Complete EHRs are developed to include all the functions that eligible professionals and hospitals need to meet meaningful use requirements. However, providers also can use modular parts from one or more vendors to create a complete EHR that meets program requirements. Both approaches have been used by participants since the program was launched in 2010.

Modular EHR Vendors

Cerner in 2014 was the leading vendor for modular EHR software used in a hospital inpatient setting, according to an analysis of data from CMS and ONC. Cerner had 429 hospital clients achieve meaningful use Stage 2 with a modular system.

Cerner Vice President of Regulatory and Compliance Strategy John Travis said the company began offering modular certification in 2014 "because some Cerner clients don't use our entire catalog" of products. He added that such customers "needed to be able to reference other vendor-certified products and [that] ONC's possession policy requires license for everything that is included in a certified product."

The next-leading modular EHR vendors among eligible hospitals were:

  • Epic Systems, with 334 hospitals;
  • Meditech, with 236 hospitals;
  • Sunquest Information Systems, with 115 hospitals;
  • HCA Information & Technology Services, with 105 hospitals;
  • MEDHOST, with 101 hospitals; and
  • McKesson, with 96 hospitals.

However, the data suggest that modular and complete EHRs are both popular among hospital IT leaders. Among Stage 2 attesters in 2014:

  • 1,638 eligible hospitals used complete EHRs from 16 vendors; and
  • 1,196 eligible hospitals used modular EHRs with products from 117 vendors (Modern Healthcare, 8/21).
Source: iHealthBeat, Monday, August 24, 2015

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