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ONC renews deal with healthcare technology certification accreditor

Between the ICD-10 delay and EHR certification becoming an annual process, change has ruled the last few months in health IT. A recent announcement may buck that trend and bring some continuity to the healthcare technology certification process.

In the wake of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology leaving the certified EHR technology program, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has approved the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an accreditor for the ONC Health Information Technology Certification Program for a second term.

ANSI’s renewal for another three-year term as an ONC-approved accreditor gives it power to verify the qualifications of ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs). ONC-ACBs, in turn, certify health information technology, including EHR systems, all under the blanket of the ONC’s Health IT Certification Program.

The ONC is involved in testing and ensuring the safety of healthcare technology certification, a mission that drove research and the issuing of last year’s Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan. The plan, subject to a public comment period before it was finalized, explores how health IT fits in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plan for ensuring patient safety.

“When implemented and used properly, health IT is an important tool in finding and avoiding medical errors and protecting patients,” Farzad Mostashari, M.D., former national coordinator for health IT, said in an HHS release.

The ONC’s solicitation for feedback on its patient safety plan wasn’t the first instance of it reaching out to the public. The ONC introduced the PlanningRoom last year, a policy crowdsourcing platform, as a means to measure public opinion and focus discussion on particular health IT subjects. The platform’s first target was gathering comments on consumer eHealth and how it can enable more access to health information, help identify useful patient data and support shared decision making between patients and providers.

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