HHS issues clarifications for EHR certification

posted Jul 6, 2011, 3:01 PM by John Little
On June 10, the DHHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued the following clarifications with regard to EHR certification:
  • A combination of certified EHR Modules can be used to meet the definition of Certified EHR Technology.
  • Combining certified EHR Modules or certified EHR Modules with a certified Complete EHR (or even two certified Complete EHRs) will not invalidate the certification assigned to the EHR technologies.
  • ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ONC-ATCBs) are not required to examine the compatibility of two or more EHR Modules with each other.
  • The ONC-ATCBs do not favor large developers, and such favoritism is precluded by the international standards to which ONC-ATCBs must adhere.
  • Certification doesn’t require that an EHR technology designed by one EHR developer make its data accessible or “portable” to another EHR technology designed by a different developer.
  • In most cases, an eligible professional or eligible hospital is not limited to demonstrating meaningful use to the exact way in which the Complete EHR or EHR Module was tested and certified. As long as an eligible professional or eligible hospital uses the certified Complete EHR or certified EHR Module's capabilities and, where applicable, the associated standard(s) and implementation specifications that correlate with the respective meaningful use objective and measure, they can successfully demonstrate meaningful use even if their exact method differs from the way in which the Complete EHR or EHR Module was tested and certified.
  • Certifications do not “expire” every two years. A certification represents a “snapshot.”  It indicates that EHR technology has met specific certification criteria at a fixed point in time. In other words, an EHR technology would not “lose its certification” after a given time period.  If, however, certification requirements change (e.g., new and/or revised certification criteria are adopted), the snapshot the certification represents would no longer accurately reflect that the EHR technology meets the changed requirements. (link)