The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission, which certifies entities that process transactions or exchange health information for meeting best practices, has released for public comment draft criteria for a new accountable care organization accreditation program expected to be formally launched in early 2015.

EHNAC throughout this year has been developing the program, designed with input from a range of stakeholders, and targeting accountable care organizations, payers and the vendors that serve them. The program “gives a third-party stamp of approval to those ACO stakeholders who have demonstrated the secure management of protected health information and can provide assurances to their overall corporate integrity and trust between entities,” Lee Barrett, executive director of industry-supported EHNAC, said in a July interview with Health Data Management. The organization has offered a range of accreditation programs during the past 20 years.

The criteria includes detailed explanations of the flow of protected health information within a provider, payer or vendor organization including the presence or absence of business associate agreements; measures to ensure data privacy and confidentiality; technical capabilities including health information exchange, data validation and conversion using standard formats; minimum system availability of at least 98 percent; audit trails retained for at least seven years and off-site storage and retrieval; and threat and vulnerability assessments conducted at least quarterly with a documented plan for breach notification.

Additional criteria cover business practices, resources, patient consent procedures, user authorization and authentication, patient and provider engagement, population health management and reporting, and coordination of care.

The criteria are comprehensive. For instance, there are 16 specific criteria for appropriate population health management and reporting, covering population identification, disease prevalence, disease measurement and reporting, preventive and screening rates, and community visibility, communication and collaboration.

Capital Clinical Integrated Network, a Medicaid ACO in Washington, D.C., and vendor HEALTHEC which offers a platform with a suite of software and services to support ACOs, completed pilot tests of the criteria in September. The tests resulted in additional criteria being added or refined, Barrett says, particularly in the areas of population health management and patient/provider engagement.

The draft criteria available for comment are here. Comments are due by Dec. 22.

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