The Health IT Policy Committee's Certification and Adoption Workgroup is seeking public comment on a draft set of voluntary EHR certification criteria for behavioral health and long-term and post-acute care settings.

According to Larry Wolf, co-chair of the Certification and Adoption Workgroup, in most cases providers in these settings are not eligible to receive funding from the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. "Though these settings have different needs, there are many characteristics that are shared by LTPAC and BH providers. For both settings, stakeholders have shared their frustration regarding the lack of reliable, interoperable systems," wrote Wolf in a May 14 blog. "Stakeholders also shared their thoughts on how to ensure that a voluntary certification initiative does not stifle innovation, is useful to both the patient and the provider, and is right-sized to provide needed functionality while keeping costs down."

The draft certification criteria are divided into three categories: all providers, LTPAC/BH setting specific, and some providers. The "all providers" category refers to certification criteria the workgroup has identified as being applicable to all provider types (hospitals, primary care, specialists, LTPAC and BH), the "LTPAC/BH setting specific" category refers to criteria relevant to named care settings, and the "some providers" category references criteria that may be relevant to LTPAC or BH providers depending on the scope and needs of the practice.

Many of the draft certification criteria align with the ONC 2014 Edition Standards and Certification Criteria Final Rule and are focused on interoperability, privacy and security, and modularity to "improve providers’ access to the functionality they need from their electronic health records," Wolf said.

In February, Doug Fridsma, M.D., chief science officer in the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT, told a HIMSS14 audience that long-term care and behavioral health providers--both of whom are not eligible for the EHR meaningful use incentive programs--are important stakeholders for the interoperable exchange of electronic health information. "We need to expand our portfolio to new use cases that bring them into the community for us to be able to exchange [information] with them," declared Fridsma.

Stakeholders have two ways to comment on the draft certification criteria. The Certification and Adoption Workgroup will hold a listening session on May 22 to hear feedback on the proposed voluntary certification criteria. Also, the public will have an opportunity to provide written comment by May 22 via the ONC Public Comment Template.

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