The recently published final rule setting the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria for electronic health records is just the beginning of a series of documents that ONC will be releasing to help jump-start HIT development efforts.

The 2015 Edition final rule seeks greater interoperability for clinical health information purposes through new and enhanced certification criteria, standards, and implementation specifications.

According to Steven Posnack, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Technology, ONC will be releasing two types of supporting documents for the 2015 Edition, the first of which will be Certification Companion Guides (CCGs).

“The CCGs are designed help health IT developers more quickly understand and interpret our regulatory requirements so that they can focus on product development,” writes Posnack in an Oct. 16 blog. “Going forward, there will be a CCG for each certification criterion that distills in one place each criterion’s regulatory history, requirements, and any subsequent clarifications.  The CCGs will be updated on an as-needed basis.”

Also See: ONC Draft Interoperability Standards Advisory Elicits Concern

Among other goals, the final rule seeks to enhance the ONC Health IT Certification Program by including provisions for more rigorous testing of health IT exchange capabilities. Toward that end, the second set of documents will include draft 2015 Edition Test Procedures for each certification criterion, which will be published for stakeholder feedback and a 30-day comment period, according to Posnack.

“We intend to publish Test Procedures for comment at the same time as their associated CCG is published,” he writes. “Additionally, over the next few weeks our colleagues at NIST will begin to make available ‘alpha’ versions of 2015 Edition testing tools for early feedback and pilot testing.  Earlier availability of test tools was another request we have done our best to respond to for the 2015 Edition. Last but not least, we’ll be engaged with our authorized certification bodies, testing labs, and their respective accreditors to conduct training sessions on new regulatory requirements.”

Micky Tripathi, president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, said the Stage 3 Meaningful Use final rule released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and ONC’s 2015 Edition final rule are “two sides of the same coin.” The 2015 Edition lays out the certified technology and capabilities providers must have to “do the things that the Meaningful Use rule says that you have to do,” adds Tripathi. All providers will be required to comply with Stage 3 requirements beginning in 2018, using EHR technology certified to the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria.

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