Two electronic health record products previously certified under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs have been decertified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.
Two versions of Platinum Health Information System’s SkyCare 4.2 had their certifications terminated because the vendor did not participate in routine surveillance requests by InfoGard Laboratories Inc., an ONC-authorized certifier of EHRs. As a result, ONC said the products do not meet certification requirements, and providers can no longer use either product to meet the requirements of the meaningful use program.
“Providers who are currently using the SkyCare EHR products can apply for a hardship exception from the meaningful use payment adjustments under the Medicare EHR program as they transition to new certified EHR technology,” ONC said in announcing the decertification on Wednesday.
Currently, 48 eligible professionals have attested to meeting the Stage 1 meaningful use requirements using SkyCare EHR products. As a result of the decertification, these providers will have to switch to other certified EHRs to continue participation in Stages 2 and 3.
“We take our responsibility to provide appropriate oversight of certified EHR products seriously and have every expectation that users will have systems that meet the technological capabilities and requirements adopted by Health and Human Services and will take action accordingly,” said National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, M.D., in a written statement.
Health IT Now, a coalition of patient groups, providers, employers and payers that supports incentives to deploy HIT, was quick to praise ONC for its enforcement actions to “penalize bad actors” and said it was “concerning that a vendor company would seek to thwart ONC oversight” in this way.
The industry group took the opportunity to urge Congress to pass legislation to “foster interoperability and improve the tools available to ONC to punish vendors who thwart program goals and who intentionally block information.”
In particular, Health IT Now recommends that lawmakers take three specific actions:
*Congress should enact a hardship exemption for providers who use products that are decertified by ONC.
*Congress should establish a hardship fund to aid providers who must spend significant resources to switch EHR products.
*Congress should make it easier for providers to get access to the full suite of data contained in their EHRs to facilitate their transition to a new vendor.
According to Health IT Now, hardship exemptions are currently left to the discretion of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. However, the group asserts that Congress should require CMS to provide them to all providers whose EHR product has been decertified. Such a provision is included in the 21st Century Cures Act recently passed by the House of Representatives.
In calling on Congress to create a hardship fund, Health IT Now argues that “providers should not be held responsible for the bad actions of vendor companies.” And, when providers are forced to switch to new EHR products “vendors should provide all the data, not just a summary of a patient’s medical record,” states the group.
“These three simple steps will help ensure ONC has all the tools it needs to enforce program rules and provide doctors and hospitals transition relief as they seek out new EHR manufacturers to help them deliver care.”
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