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Certification Programs & Policy

Certification and EHR Incentives

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) manages the CMS EHR Incentive Programs and meaningful use. The CMS EHR Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) as they adopt certified EHRs and successfully achieve meaningful use (MU).

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology logo.

The HITECH Act charged ONC with creating and maintaining an EHR certification program. In 2010, ONC established the ONC HIT Certification Program to oversee the certification and testing of EHR products.

In the Program, ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs) and Accredited Testing Laboratories (ATLs) certify and test EHR products. ONC then adds certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL), the authoritative, comprehensive listing of certified Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s).EPs and EHs must use the CHPL to identify the CEHRT they possess and generate a matching CMS EHR Certification ID as part of the meaningful use attestation process.

For more information on using the CHPL to generate a CMS EHR Certification ID, please visit the step-by-step instruction available on the site. For information on how to register for the CMS EHR Incentive Programs or questions about the attestation process and payments, visit the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website.

Standards & Certification Criteria

CMS establishes the meaningful use objectives and measures which EPs and EHs must achieve in order to qualify for incentive payments. The standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria adopted by the Secretary establish the minimum requirements that CEHRT must include to support the achievement of these objectives and measures. To access the Standards and Certification Criteria Final Rules, please visit our Regulations.

The ONC HIT Certification Program establishes the ONC-Approved Test Method which must be used to evaluate the conformance of products to the standards and certification criteria. For more information, please visit Testing and Test Methods.

Certification and Meaningful Use

Certification ensures that the EHR technology providers choose to adopt offers the necessary capabilities, functionalities, and security to help them achieve MU.

To qualify to receive incentive payments, EPs and EHs must successfully attest to meaningful use by adopting and demonstrating their meaningful use of CEHRT.

The graphic below depicts the process by which EPs and EHs can use CEHRT to qualify for incentive payments under the CMS EHR Incentive Programs.

Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) first adopt certified EHR. Then, EPs and EHs Meaningfully Use certified EHR and successfully attest to demonstrating MU. Once an EP or EH successfully attests, they receive incentive payments from CMS.

Meaningful Use Attestation

To participate in the CMS EHR Incentive Programs, EPs and EHs must use Certified EHR Technology.

CEHRT gives assurance to purchasers and other users that an EHR system or module offers the necessary technological capability, functionality, and security to help them meet the MU objectives and measures. Certification also ensures that the electronic Health IT (HIT) products and systems providers and patients use are secure and can work with other systems to share health information (interoperability).

An EP or EH selects a Complete EHR or a combination of EHR Module(s) to create a complete certified EHR on the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) to generate the CMS EHR Certification ID required in the meaningful use attestation process. For step-by-step instructions on using the CHPL, please visit the site here. For more information on the meaningful use attestation process and requirements, please visit the CMS EHR Incentive Programs.