ONC Revises EHR Certification Standards
All certifications undergo periodic revisions to keep up with the changing times. If it did not, the certificate itself would become obsolete and worthless. As with any industry, certification standards need to be updated for sensitive data and records as well.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) sets the standards for Electronic Health Records (EHR), and true to form, ONC has, in collaboration with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), recently revised the EHR certification standards. The new 2014 EHR standards are more complex compared to the 2011 standards, but this complexity is a reflection of the business environment marked by fast-paced changes.
The core component of EHR certification is “meaningful use” of certified technology in EHR implementation. The certification assesses the extent to which the certified technology is put to “meaningful use:" to improve quality, efficiency and safety, to maintain privacy and security of health information, to engage patients, and to improve care coordination.
The revisions include important updates that set new baselines for better interoperability, electronic health information exchange, and patient engagement.
The major change in the 2014 revisions is the restructured meaningful use (MU) Stage 1 requirements. To qualify for financial incentives that come with the certification, healthcare providers had to meet 14 core objectives and another five out of ten additional menu objectives. Hospitals had to meet 13 core objectives and another five out of ten additional menu objectives. The 2014 revisions integrate, combine, and remove certain “core” and “menu” objectives, and healthcare professionals and hospitals can no longer count measure exclusions toward meeting menu objectives. Another important requirement is the stipulation that healthcare professionals and hospitals now need to offer at least 50% of unique patients the facility to access their health information online.
The 2014 revisions also introduce new Stage 2 requirements, which is where assessment becomes complex. In addition to meeting core and menu objectives, healthcare professionals and eligible hospitals have to report clinical quality measures. Compliance for Stage 2 sets in after compliance of Stage 1.
With the implementation of the 2014 revisions, the 2011 Edition is set to expire, and will no longer be acceptable to meet “Certified EHR Technology” definition. EHR technology providers need to adopt the revised 2014 EHR regulations to demonstrate that they have the required functionality, capability and security to help them achieve meaningful use.
ONC requires healthcare professionals and hospitals to meet the various meaningful use requirements, and, for that to happen, data centers that handle EHR data need to be compliant and compatible with such measures in the first place.
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