It was just a little more than a year ago that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT launched the Designated Test EHR Program to aid eligible professionals and hospitals in meeting the Stage 2 Meaningful Use transition of care objective. However, in that short amount of time, vendor participants have been playing a game of musical chairs.

Test EHRs—provided to CMS by vendors—enable providers to demonstrate that they can electronically share information with a disparate records system, a requirement of the transition of care measure in Meaningful Use Stage 2.

As the program currently stands, Cerner Corporation and Epic Systems have joined iPatientCare as the three CMS Designated Test EHR Program participants, according to an April 6 ONC announcement, while McKesson and Meditech are no longer participating. Athenahealth participated in the pilot before the official program launch, but they were not a CMS Designated Test EHR vendor in the program. 

Asked why vendors participating in the program seem to be playing musical chairs, an ONC spokesman said: “The CMS Designated Test EHR Program is a voluntary program. Developers are not required to participate for any specific period.” 

Also See: Feds Seek Vendors to Aid Providers in Meeting Stage 2 Care Transition Measure

Established in January 2014, the program requires technology to be certified to the ONC 2014 Edition HIT Certification criterion for transitions of care. Since the Test EHR Program was launched just over a year ago, more than 4,000 providers have registered to conduct tests and more than 5,000 have successfully attested to the transition of care Meaningful Use core objective.

The MU Stage 2’s transition of care objective requires eligible professionals and eligible hospitals/critical access hospitals to either:

*Conduct one or more successful electronic exchanges of a summary of care document, with a recipient who has EHR technology designed by a different EHR developer than the sender’s.

Or

*Conduct one or more successful tests with the CMS designated test EHR during the EHR reporting period via the Test EHR Program.

“The preferred method is for providers seeking to attest to measure #3—the exchange of a summary of care record with a provider using an EHR from a different technology developer,” states ONC. “The Test EHR is available as a last resort option to meet this measure if the first option cannot be met. It is also important to note that this summary of care exchange requirement can be met during anytime in the reporting year and does not have to occur within the actual reporting period.”

Designated Test EHRs are registered on a software system—the EHR Randomizer—hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The software system randomly matches an EP, eligible hospital, or CAH with a designated test EHR that is designed by a different EHR technology developer than theirs.

Other vendors that wish to participate in the CMS Designated Test EHR Program should contact xvendor.exchange@hhs.gov for more information.

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