ONC scraps proposed 2015 Edition EHR testing criteria
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has thrown out its proposal to create nonbinding testing and certification criteria to prepare electronic healthrecord vendors for coming EHR requirements.
In a final rule released last week, the ONC jettisoned the plan for a voluntary 2015 Edition of EHR testing and certification criteria. The changes will have little to no effect on providers. The ONC estimated that only “a small number of EHR technology developers and other health information technology developers will seek to be tested and certified” to those provisions of this new rule.
The ONC sets the rules that health IT developers must meet to qualify their systems for use by providers in the $25 billion federal EHR incentive payment program.
Last month, the CMS revised providers’ Stage 2 meaningful use and other requirements. Those changes gave hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals more flexibility in meeting both Stage 1 and Stage 2 meaningful-use criteria under the program and rolled back the start date of Stage 3 until fiscal and calendar years 2017. Stage 3 had been scheduled to start in fiscal and calendar years 2016.
The original Stage 2 rule and attendant testing and certification criteria were revised by the CMS and the ONC in May, partly because of the reported failure of a significant number of EHR vendors to keep pace with the 2014 Edition updates and the consequent inability of providers to implement those updates in time for them to meet the original Stage 2 compliance deadlines.
In February the ONC floated the idea of creating the voluntary 2015 Edition to give clearer signals to the industry and avoid such lags. The ONC said last week that its reasons for that proposal “remain valid.”
But it said that in response to public comment and “further reflection of ONC goals and timelines,” it instead “adopted a small subset of our original proposals” to be included as optional criteria for the 2014 Edition Release 2 criteria.
“We note that EHR technology developers do not have to update and recertify their products to the 2014 Edition Release 2, nor do participating hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals have to upgrade their existing 2014 Edition software to Release 2,” the rule said. Rather, the agency asked that participants merely consider whether Release 2 “offers any opportunities they might want to pursue.”