The federal government has again clarified that a provider complying with meaningful use of electronic health records must "possess" certified systems that meet all MU criteria--even "menu" criteria the provider has chosen not to comply with.

The clarification from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is explained on ONC's Frequently Asked Questions page (#22 to clarify #17).

National Coordinator David Blumenthal, M.D., also has a new entry on ONC's blog page explaining the rationale for making providers pay for functions they are not using.

"As stated in our final regulations, providers are given the flexibility to defer as many as five "menu set" objectives during Stage 1 and still achieve meaningful use. That means providers have flexibility to stage their adoption and implementation of EHRs in sync with their plans to defer certain menu set objectives.  

"But as also stated in our final regulations, we require EHR systems themselves be certified against all criteria adopted by the Secretary. So even though a provider has the option of deferring some objectives during Stage 1, the EHR system in the provider's possession must be certified against all functions. Possession means having a legal right to access and use, at the provider's discretion, all of the Stage 1 functions of a fully-certified system - but it does not imply that the provider must fully implement every one of these functions."

The complete blog entry is here and the new FAQ is here.

--Joseph Goedert


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