January 7, 2011. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) published today in the Federal Register the final rule for Establishment of the Permanent Certification Program for Health Information Technology (HIT), available online. This regulation is effective on February 7, 2011. According to the January 3, 2011, HHS News Release, “[t]he temporary certification program, established through a final rule published on June 24, 2010, will continue in effect until it sunsets on December 31, 2011, or at a later date when the processes necessary for the permanent certification program to operate are completed. ONC expects to stand-up the programmatic activities necessary to implement the permanent certification program throughout 2011.”
The summary of the rule follows:
“This final rule establishes a permanent certification program for the purpose of certifying health information technology (HIT). This final rule is issued pursuant to the authority granted to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (the National Coordinator) by section 3001(c)(5) of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), as added by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The permanent certification program will eventually replace the temporary certification program that was previously established by a final rule [published in the Federal Register on June 24, 2010, and available online. The National Coordinator will use the permanent certification program to authorize organizations to certify electronic health record (EHR) technology, such as Complete EHRs and/or EHR Modules. The permanent certification program could also be expanded to include the certification of other types of HIT.”
Again referring to the HHS News Release referenced above, ” [t]he permanent certification program provides new features that will enhance the certification of health information technology, including increasing the comprehensiveness, transparency, reliability, and efficiency of the current processes used for the certification of health information technology. Meaningful use of ‘Certified EHR Technology’ is a core requirement for eligible health care providers who seek to qualify to receive incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs as authorized by the [HITECH Act].” Registration for eligible providers to receive incentive payments began on January 3, 2011, and Health Data Management reported on January 6, 2011, that two states–Kentucky and Oklahoma–had already begun issuance of incentive checks [www.healthdatamanagement.com].
For additional and updated information on EHR Certification and Meaningful Use, visit ONC’s Health IT Web site and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Web site.