Permanent EHR Certification Program

Posted on January 5, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Looks like the people at HHS and ONC have been working hard. On Monday this week they published the Permanent EHR Certification Program Final rule. You can find the press release about the Permanent EHR Certification final rule on my new EMR News website (if you have other EMR news, please let me know).

You can download the full Permanent EHR Certification final rule here (Warning: PDF). Although, I must admit that I found the permanent certification fact sheet very interesting. Here’s my summary:
*Testing and certification is expected to begin under the permanent certification program on January 1, 2012 (with an exception if it’s not ready)
*NIST (through its NVLAP) will continue with accrediting organization to test EHR and to work with ONC to create test tools and procedures
*A new ONC-Approved Accreditor of ONC-AA will be chosen every 3 years
*All ONC-ATCB (those bodies certified under the temporary) must apply to be ONC-ATB (permanent certification bodies)
*ONC-ACB have to renew every 3 years
*Gap Certification will be available for future EHR certification criteria.

The most interesting part to me was that ONC will be selecting an ONC-AA (Approved Accreditor) through a competitive bid process. So, they’re going to accredit an accreditor to accredit the certifiers? I think you get the gist. I can see how ONC saves so much by only having to have to deal with one ONC-AA and not the 6 ONC-ATCB (that was in the sarcasm font if you couldn’t tell).

It does make sense to have a gap certification so that EMR vendors that are already certified don’t have to certify against all the criteria every time. I guess in theory changes an EHR vendor has made could have caused issues with their previous functions, but that’s pretty rare. Especially since their users will need it to be able to show meaningful use (which is why EHR certification has little meaning beyond it being required for EHR incentive money).

Whether you agree or disagree with EHR certification (I think you know where I stand), you have to give ONC credit for pushing out the EHR certification program so that there are plenty of certified EHR software out there to choose from. Looks like they’re well on their way to implementing the permanent EHR certification as well.