How can Certified Health IT and Certified EHR Technology help my practice?
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) oversees the Health IT Certification Program for health IT modules — including electronic health records (EHR) and health information exchanges. The certification program sets several nationwide standards including:
- Health IT standards
- Implementation specifications
- Certification criteria
Certified health IT plays a vital role in establishing a nationwide, connected, and interoperable health information infrastructure. An EHR that goes through ONC’s certification program earns a Certified Health IT Module designation and appears on ONC’s Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL).
How certified health IT benefits your practice
Certain health care payment programs, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Program, (also known as “Meaningful Use”) and the Quality Payment Program, require you to use certified health IT. CMS refers to the set of health IT that eligible providers in the incentive program must have as Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT).
Using certified health IT improves care coordination through the electronic exchange of clinical-care documents. It provides a baseline assurance that the technology will perform clinical-care and data-exchange functions in accordance with interoperability standards and user-centered design. The benefits of standard data capture and interoperable exchange of information include enhanced patient safety, usability, privacy, and security.
Examples of ONC standards include vocabulary code sets, like SNOMED-CT®, that ensure consistent clinical terminology between systems. Standards for exchanging clinical content include Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA — which we discussed in section 1 of the Playbook). It allows different EHR systems to electronically send and receive a patient’s clinical care summary while retaining the same meaning across systems.
To date, ONC has issued 3 editions of health IT certification criteria:
Each edition builds upon the previous version by adopting newer standards and more advanced health IT functions. The goal: continually move toward nationwide interoperability, improved clinical care, and better health information exchange.
Certified health IT can help your practice offer:
- Electronic prescribing
- Patient-specific education resources
- Secure e-messaging
Certified health IT can also help your practice:
- Check drug-drug and drug-allergy interactions
- Document patient social, psychological, and behavioral data
- Denote sensitive electronic patient documents
- Document patient care-plan preferences
Many programs and organizations encourage or require the use of health IT certified under the ONC Health IT Certification Program — in addition to the CMS quality reporting programs like the EHR Incentive Programs and the Merit Based Incentive Program (MIPS). These programs and organizations include, but are not limited to:
- Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting
- Department of Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization Program
- The Joint Commission for performance measurement initiative (“ORYX vendor” — eCQM for hospitals)
- Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Chronic care management services billing in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule
- Mechanized Claims Processing and Information Retrieval Systems (MMIS) requires that state MMIS systems align with adopted standards and allow for interoperability with health information exchanges
- Under the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs) must require qualifying participants to use CEHRT in order to receive the APM bonus