Certified EHR

What does one mean by the term certified EHR or certified health IT? The certification of software or solutions by well-known certification firms adds a certain degree of credibility to the product thus increasing its acceptability. Similarly the certification of electronic health record (EHR) assures procurers and other users about the quality and relevance of a particular EHR system.  The US department of health & human services’ frontal agency, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has an elaborate program for certified EHR in the US.

The certification of EHR provides assurance to the potential buyers that the EHR system has all the required functionality, the technical capabilities and security needed to get the important use criteria recognized in a given phase. Certified EHR also boosts the confidence of the patients and providers by assurance that the IT products and systems they are using are secure; are compatible with other systems to share information and can maintain the confidentiality of the private data. Increasing confidence in the emerging health IT systems is an important factor in advancing the adoption of health IT system and in understanding the benefits of better patient care.

Another important aspect of certifying the EHR is that, the solutions become eligible for government grants under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. All the eligible experts and hospitals who try to qualify for incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs must compulsorily by statute use Certified EHR Technology.  Once the individual EHR modules or the complete EHRs are certified professionals and eligible hospitals can use them either single module or the complete solutions.

There are two types of EHR certifications, including temporary certification program and permanent certification program. The temporary certification program for certified EHR was established to certify programs for the purpose of certifying and testing health information technology. In 2010, the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) and the Drummond Group Inc, were named by the ONC as the first IT review bodies who are authorized to certify and test EHR systems for compliance.

In June 2011, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) was appointed as the ONC-Approved Accredit or (AA) for all Permanent Certification Program for certified EHR. As part of the certification process, the ONC-AA will accredit organizations to certify EHR technology and perform other similar responsibilities as part of the permanent certification program. The approval of ONC-AA is amongst the initial steps for the implementation of the permanent certification program. This is expected to be replaced by the permanent certification programs at the beginning of 2012.

The certification of EMR is still in the development stages. The ONC in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has jointly developed the conformance and functional testing requirements, test tools and test cases and the support programs for the certified EHR programs. These methods developed jointly by the ONC and the NIST, such as the test data, test procedures, and testing tools for certification is expected to boost compliance with the technical requirements and standards.

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