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Temporary Certification Program

Overview

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) established a Temporary Certification Program (TCP) for Health Information Technology (Health IT) to provide a way for organizations to become authorized by the National Coordinator to certify and test Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology. With the launch of the ONC HIT Certification Program, the TCP sunset on October 4, 2012. For additional information on the ONC HIT Certification Program, please visit the ONC HIT Certification Program webpage here.

ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ONC-ATCBs) certified and tested EHR technology in the TCP. The Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) continues to provide the authoritative, comprehensive listing of certified Complete EHRs and EHR Modules.

Certification provides assurance to health care providers that the EHR technology they adopt satisfies the capabilities needed to participate in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Programs.

Use of Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) is a core requirement for health care providers to become "meaningful users" and eligible for payment under the CMS EHR Incentive Programs.

The graphic below provides an overview of how the TCP operated:

Temporary Certification Program Overview – Organizations

In the Temporary Certification Program, ONC approves and authorizes organizations to serve as ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ONC-ATCBs). ONC-ATCBs perform testing against criteria and certify tested products. In the TCP, developers and vendors create EHR technology, and once the product successfully passes testing and achieves certification through the ONC-ATCB, ONC reviews and posts the certified product to the Certified Health IT List (CHPL)

Temporary Certification Overview: Processes

In the Temporary Certification Program, the developer/vendor submits EHR products to an ONC-ATCB. The ONC-ATCB then provides the vendor/developer with a test report. The vendor/developer then coordinates with the ONC-ATCB to complete an EHR certification application and agreement. Once the product successfully passes testing and achieves certification, the ONC-ATCB reports the certified product information to ONC. ONC then publishes the certified EHR technology to the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL).

Program Sunset

The TCP began in July 2010, and was replaced by the ONC HIT Certification Program on October 4, 2012. In the ONC HIT Certification Program, certification and testing activities are performed by separate entities. Certification is conducted by ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs) and testing is performed by Accredited Testing Laboratories (ATLs).

Timeline of the Transition from the Temporary Certification Program to the ONC HIT Certification Program

This box contains a timeline of the ONC Certification Program. The timeline goes from June 2011 to summer 2012. The Temporary Certification Program (TCP) started in June 2010, and will continue until it sunsets in summer 2012. After the Temporary Certification Program sunsets, the ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ONC-ATCBs) have six months to finish testing and certifying the EHR products submitted to them prior to the TCP sunset date. The announcement of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as the ONC-Approved Accreditor (ONC-AA) was made by ONC in June 2011. The ONC-ACB announcements and the ATL announcements will be made in summer 2012. The PCP will become fully operational in summer 2012.

Transition to the ONC HIT Certification Program

With the sunset of the TCP on October 4, 2012, ONC-ATCBs were prohibited from accepting new requests to certify and test Complete EHRs or EHR Modules.

In the ONC HIT Certification Program, Developers and Vendors work with ONC-ACBs to certify their products and ATLs to test their products.

The CHPL will continue to be the one-stop shop for cross-validating Certified EHR Technology, and the CHPL will continue to be managed by ONC.

EHR product certifications made in the TCP are valid in the ONC HIT Certification Program.

The major differences and similarities between the Temporary Certification Program and the ONC HIT Certification Program

There are major differences and similarities between the Temporary Certification Program (TCP) and the Permanent Certification Program (PCP). In the TCP, testing and certified are combined, and are performed by the same entity. ONC approves and authorizes testing and certification bodies to become ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ONC-ATCBs). ONC-ATCBs test and certify Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s) based on applicable certification criteria. In the PCP, testing and certification are separate. However, a single organization can operate as both an Accredited Testing Laboratory (ATL) and an ONC-Authorized Certification Body (ONC-ACB) if there is a firewall between testing and certification activities. Testing laboratories are accredited by NVLAP, and certification bodies are accredited by the ONC-Approved Accreditor (ONC-AA). ONC then authorizes accredited certification bodies to serve as ONC-ACBs. ATLs test Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s) based on applicable certification criteria. ONC-ACBs certify Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s) based on applicable certification criteria. Although there are several differences between the Temporary and Permanent Programs, there are also several similarities. These similarities include: both programs are run by ONC; ONC approves test procedures in both; both programs include testing and certification of Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s); and, certified Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s) are listed on the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) for both programs.

Learn More

  1. Health IT Certification Programs – Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Temporary Certification Program Press Release
  3. Establishment of the Temporary Certification Program - Final Rule [PDF - 405 KB]
  4. Temporary Certification Program Informational Calls

For questions about the Temporary Certification Program, contact ONC's Office of Certification.