The Office of the National Coordinator has announced a 30-day period, starting Feb. 8, for submission of requests from organizations wishing to become an ONC-Approved Accreditor under the permanent health information technology certification program.

Under the final rule published on Jan. 7, ONC will select one organization, called the ONC-Approved Accreditor (ONC-AA), which will accredit entities wishing to become a health I.T. certification body. The final rule details ONC's competitive process for selecting the ANC-AA. The chosen organization will serve a three-year term and can be reselected following another competitive selection process.

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. ONC anticipates the permanent program will have approximately six ACBs. Certification bodies operating under the temporary program, which currently numbers six, must go through the same processes as other entities to become a certifier under the permanent program. Selected ONC-ACBs must renew their status every three years.

ONC published a notice of the ONC-AA submission requirements in the Feb. 8 Federal Register, available here. Information to be included in the submission, according to the notice, includes:

* A detailed description of the accreditation organization's conformance to ISO/IEC17011:2004 (incorporated by reference in Sec. 170.599) and experience evaluating the conformance of certification bodies to ISO/IEC Guide 65:1996 (incorporated by reference in Sec. 170.599);

* A detailed description of the accreditation organization's accreditation requirements, as well as how those requirements would complement the Principles of Proper Conduct for ONC-ACBs and ensure the surveillance approaches used by ONC-ACBs include the use of consistent, objective, valid, and reliable methods;

* Detailed information on the accreditation organization's procedures that would be used to monitor ONC-ACBs;

* Detailed information, including education and experience, about the key personnel who review organizations for accreditation; and

* Procedures for responding to, and investigating, complaints against ONC-ACBs.

As the Department of Health and Human Services adopts new or revised certification criteria in future rules, previously certified Complete and Module EHRs may go through a streamlined "gap certification" and be tested and certified for only the applicable new or revised criteria.

--Joseph Goedert


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