So much for being first
First-come, first-served is a great distribution model for some things— pie at church picnics or “bat day” giveaways at the local ball park. For other things, not so much.
So, give HHS rulemakers props for listening to their critics and scrapping their original plan to use the model to select a small but important player in its health information technology promotional campaign—that of “approved accreditation authority.”
The application period for organizations seeking to become that authority opened Feb. 8 and runs through March 10.
Here’s what happening: As many know, HHS is setting up a permanent program to select organizations to test and certify electronic health-record systems as capable of meeting the meaningful-use requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As part of the permanent plan, HHS is to select only one independent body to accredit those testing and certification organizations.
In a proposed rule covering these endeavors, HHS’ plan called for its Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to review applications from organizations wanting to become the above-mentioned “ONC-approved accreditor.” It then was to review those applications in the order they were received, and then anoint as its approved accreditor the first organization it deemed to be qualified.
However, in its final rule on the selection process, HHS said it had been talked out of its original scheme by criticism of the plan during the public comment period.
Instead, HHS has opted in the final rule for an open, competitive process, one that “will ensure the best-qualified organization that submits a request is chosen as the ONC-AA.”
Seems being first isn’t everything—or the only thing.