ONC scraps pro­posed 2015 Edi­tion EHR test­ing cri­te­ria

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By Joseph Conn

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.”

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