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Standards & Certifications Criteria Final Rule

Providers and patients must be confident that the health IT products and systems they use are secure, and can maintain data confidentiality, work with other systems to share information, and perform a set of well-defined functions. To this end, a Final Rule on an initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for adoption by the HHS Secretary was issued on July 13, 2010 in order to create the Health Information Technology Certification Programs.

The Standards and Certification Criteria Final Rule represents the first step in an incremental approach to adopting standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria to enhance the interoperability, functionality, utility, and security of health IT and to support its meaningful use.

The certification criteria adopted in this initial set establish the required capabilities and related standards and implementation specifications that certified EHR technology will need to include in order to, at a minimum, support the achievement of meaningful use Stage 1 (beginning in 2011) by eligible professionals and eligible hospitals under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

Meaningful Use
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a companion rule on July 28, 2010, that defined the minimum requirements that providers must meet through their use of certified EHRs in order to qualify for payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

What Standards and Certification Criteria Mean for Health Care Providers

Both the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs include a requirement related to certified EHR technology.

Medicare EHR Incentive Program
Eligible health care providers may receive incentive payments if they adopt and achieve meaningful use of certified EHR technology (Complete EHR or EHR Modules that have been certified through the Health Information Technology Certification Programs by an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB)).

Medicaid EHR Incentive Program
Eligible health care providers may first adopt, implement, or upgrade to certified EHR technology in their first year of the program and receive an incentive payment before having to achieve the meaningful use of certified EHR technology. The standards and certification criteria final rule specifies the necessary technological capabilities EHR technology will need to include, for the EHR technology to be certified by an ONC-ATCB.  Additionally, it specifies how eligible health care providers will need to use the certified EHR technology to meet applicable meaningful use requirements.

What Standards and Certification Criteria Mean for Developers of EHR Technology
Developers of EHR technology who design their EHR technology in accordance with this final rule and subsequently get their EHR technology tested and certified by an ONC-ATCB are assured that their EHR technology can be adopted by eligible health care providers who seek to achieve meaningful use Stage 1.

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For other questions related to the standards and certification criteria, please contact ONC's Office of Certification.

Last updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2014