iHealthBeat reports that National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal announced yesterday the release of the long-awaited Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the electronic health record (EHR) certification process. The NPRM for EHR certification is available here.
Earlier in the day at the Health Information Management and System Society (HIMSS) convention, Jodi Daniel, director of ONC’s Office of Policy and Research, told attendees that the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) was “working as quickly as possible” to finalize recommendations for the health IT certification program and that the NPRM was “coming very soon.”
In December ’09, the ONC guidelines for how providers can demonstrate “meaningful use” of EHRs and interim certification standards for EHR technology, but until yesterday, the health care industry still in the dark regarding the final EHR certification process.
The EHR certification NPRM was a joint effort by the ONC and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Tony Trenkle, CMS’ Director of the Office of e-Health Standards and Services, said the NPRM was a “very complex undertaking,” adding there were “obviously a lot of moving parts here” and that the two agencies are working closely together to “define, refine and change” the rules.
The NPRM will separate testing and certification of EHR systems as recommend by the Health IT Policy Committee. However, Steven Posnack, an ONC policy analyst, told iHealthBeat that organizations would be allowed to perform both testing and certification, but they would need separate accreditation.
According to the NPRM, “Any organization or a consortium of organizations that can successfully demonstrate competency with internationally recognized standardized certification and testing standards and methods are encouraged to apply for either or both certification programs.”
The NPRM is designed to be compatible with meaningful use mandates, like e-prescribing, so certification criteria requires e-prescribing capability and the standards mandate that EHRs use the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) Script 8.1 or 10.6.
When asked by a HIMSS attendee what the corrective course of action be when there is “inevitably” a disconnect between agency rules, director of ONC’s Office of Policy and Research Jodi Daniel said ONC and CMS would update regulations on a periodic basis and could release guidance on the regulations to clarify any questions or confusion.