The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released a final rule establishing a temporary electronic health records certification program under the HITECH Act.

The rule is available in a non-final format at the Federal Register's Public Inspection Desk at federalregister.gov/inspection.aspx. It will be published on June 24. A final rule for a permanent certification program is expected this fall.

The final rule for the temporary certification program does not deem the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology as a temporary certifying body. CCHIT will have to apply along with other entities.

The rule also does not grant "grandfather" status to existing EHRs as being considered "Certified EHR Technology" under the temporary program, even if the products are CCHIT-certified.

In response to multiple requests for a grandfather clause, ONC questions whether those making the requests would be willing to take the risk of attempting to achieve meaningful use without the certainty of knowing that their EHR has the necessary capabilities. "Furthermore, while deeming of this sort may address a very short-term need of existing HIT users, we believe it would significantly undercut our long-term policy goals and objectives, as well as provide eligible professionals with a false sense of security," according to the rule.

--Joseph Goedert

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