Health IT Certification Programs Proposed

Dr. David Blumenthal | March 2, 2010

Today the Department of Health and Human Services released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Establishment of Certification Programs for Health Information Technology (Health IT). The rule first proposes the creation of a temporary certification program for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and EHR modules. This serves as a bridge to the second, permanent certification proposal, which establishes detailed guidelines to support an ongoing program of testing and certification of health IT. The meaningful use of certified EHR technology is a requirement for qualifying for incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentives program.  The temporary program therefore is critical as it assures the availability of Certified EHR Technology prior to the date on which health care providers may begin demonstrating meaningful use.

While we are making significant strides toward modernizing our health care system, these efforts will only succeed if providers and patients are confident that their health information systems are safe, secure, and meet standard functionality requirements.  Certification isn’t just about meaningful use; at its core, it is about providing assurances to patients and providers that EHR technology can deliver the benefits of improved quality of care and protect personal health information.

Significant stakeholder feedback was taken into account as we developed these rules, including formal recommendations from the HIT Policy Committee (a Federal Advisory Committee), but your input on the proposed rule is critical to this process. I hope that you will provide formal feedback at during the public comment period.

Certification of HIT programs is another critical step in the path to achieving the vision of the HITECH Act and we appreciate your engagement in the process.  In addition to your formal comments, we hope you will use this blog as a forum for a lively discussion about certification and its role in achieving meaningful use.

– David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. – National Coordinator for Health Information Technology