ONC Extends Temporary EHR Certification Program

National Health Information Technology Coordinator Farzad Mostashari, M.D., has delayed implementation of the permanent electronic health records meaningful use certification program until at least the summer of 2012.

The permanent program was scheduled to start in January 2012, but existing rules give ONC the authority to move the date if the program isn't ready. Six companies have been accredited to conduct certifications under the temporary program, but ONC does not envision having sufficient numbers of certification entities selected and ready for the permanent program until next summer, according to a notice published Nov. 3.

ONC in June selected the American National Standards Institute as the ONC-Approved Accreditor (ONC-AA) under the permanent program. Once an entity is accredited by the ONC-AA, it then can apply to ONC to become an ONC-Authorized Certification Body, or ONC-ACB. The Office of the National Coordinator anticipates the permanent program will have around six ONC-ACBs.

"We believe that the sunset of the temporary certification program should be tied to the effective data of the final rule that we intend to issue in Summer 2012, which is expected to adopt new and revised standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHR technology in support of the next stage of meaningful use under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs," according to the notice. "We believe aligning the sunset of the temporary certification program with the effective date of this forthcoming final rule would provide certainty to health care providers, EHR technology developers and other stakeholders, while also ensuring a sufficient number of accredited testing laboratories and ONC-ACBs exist to meet market demand."


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