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temporary certifi cation program for electronic health record technology


The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

issued a fi nal rule on June 18, 2010 to establish a temporary certifi cation program for electronic health record (EHR) technology. The temporary certifi cation program establishes processes that organizations will need to follow in order to be authorized by the National Coordinator to test and certify EHR technology. Use of “certifi ed EHR technology” is a core require- ment for providers who seek to qualify to receive incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs provi- sions authorized in the Health Information Technol- ogy for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. HITECH was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will soon issue fi nal regulations to implement the EHR incentive programs. Certifi cation is used to provide assurance and confi - dence that a product or service will work as expected and will include the capabilities for which it was pur- chased. EHR technology certifi cation does just that: It assures healthcare providers that the EHR technology they adopt has been tested and includes the required capabilities they need in order to use the technology in a meaningful way to improve the quality of care provided to their patients.

On March 10, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled Proposed Establishment of Certifi cation Programs for Health Information Tech- nology. The NPRM proposed the establishment of two certifi cation programs for purposes of testing and cer- tifying EHRs, one temporary and one permanent. The temporary certifi cation program fi nal rule issued today will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The fi nal rule for the permanent certifi cation program is expected to be published this fall. “By purchasing certifi ed EHR technology, hospitals and eligible professionals will be able to make EHR purchasing decisions knowing that the technology will allow them to become meaningful users of electronic health records, qualify for the payment incentives, and begin to use EHRs in a way that will improve quality

4 July 2010

and effi ciency in our healthcare system,” said David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., national coordinator for health information technology. “We hope that all HIT stakeholders view this rule as the federal government’s commitment to reduce uncertainty in the health IT marketplace and advance the successful implementa- tion of EHR incentive programs.” This fi nal rule is issued under the authority provided to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in section 3001(c)(5) of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) as added by the HITECH Act. For more information about the temporary certifi ca- tion program and rule, please visit http://healthit.hhs. gov/certifi cation. For more information about other HHS Recovery

Act Health Information Technology funding and pro- grams, see index.html#Health.

FUNDS HHS awards $83.9 million in Recovery

Act funds to help networks of health centers adopt electronic health records

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius an- nounced $83.9 million in grants to help networks of health centers adopt electronic health records (EHR) and other health information technol- ogy (HIT) systems. The funds are part of the $2 bil- lion allotted to HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to expand health care services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program. Forty-fi ve grants will support new and enhanced EHR implementation projects as well as HIT innova- tion projects. Funds will allow grantees to use EHR technology to improve healthcare quality, effi ciency and patient safety. Eligible professionals practicing within health centers who are able to demonstrate meaning- ful use of certifi ed EHR technology may be eligible for incentive payments provided under Medicaid and Medicare. Visit the HHS Web site at for the list of facilities awarded.

HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY ONC issues fi nal rule to establish the

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