HHS issues proposed rule for certification of electronic health records

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking envisions two-phased process for certification of EHRs

The Health and Human Services Department is creating a two-phased program to enable vendors to obtain certifications for their electronic health record (EHR) systems, so that they can qualify for economic stimulus law incentives.

HHS released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on March 2 describing the certification program to test and certify EHRs, Dr. David Blumenthal, HHS’ national coordinator for health IT, said in a news release. The two-phase program includes a temporary and a permanent phase.

The temporary program is being initiated to ensure that certified EHR products are available in time for purchase by eligible hospitals and doctors. The providers must buy and meaningfully use those certified systems to qualify for the $17 billion in stimulus law incentive payments. Under the law, those payments will begin in October 2010.

Under the temporary certification process, the national coordinator for health IT would authorize organizations to assume testing and certification responsibilities. The temporary program would cease once the permanent program began.

HHS is collaborating with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop both the temporary and permanent phases of the program. “NIST is developing a test method and infrastructure that will be used by testing laboratories in the testing component of both certification programs,” according to a news release on the NPRM.

According to the NPRM, the national coordinator may name several organizations to conduct the certifications. Currently, the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) is the only organization that certifies EHRs. The group said it was confident that it would meet the criteria to be recognized as a certifying body for EHRs under the stimulus law.

“Having reviewed the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding certifying bodies, we feel confident about our prospects of becoming accredited,” Alisa Ray, executive director of CCHIT, said in a statement March 2. “Today’s release of the Certification NPRM is an important step that will reduce the uncertainty that the health care community has experienced while awaiting this additional information.”

She said CCHIT is “well prepared” to apply for the certification and feels “confident” about its future.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group