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Certification NPRM comments due soon, still far from final rule

Comments on the certification notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are due in a week, and members of the Health IT Policy Committee are hard at work crafting a response.

The policy committee’s certification and adoption workgroup met April 30 to put together its draft recommendations. The comments must go before the full board before May 10 for a vote, then they will be submitted to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the lead agency in charge of the certification proposed rule.

Among some of the bigger concerns for the proposed rule, the workgroup focused on the mandate that a certification organization must have an annual surveillance plan. The rule did not spell out what that plan would look like, however.

The workgroup in its recommendations to the policy committee plans to suggest that a plan require vendors to include instructions for customers on how to report problems with the product. In addition, through the program, the certification body should monitor vendor behavior, investigate reports of poorly functioning certified technology, and ensure software conformity and effectiveness with meaningful use requirements.

What became clear throughout the discussion is that there are still many unanswered questions about certification. As the HITECH Act mandates are set to go into effect in half a year, meaningful use requirements, the certification process and which organizations will be conducting certification are still up in the air.

The workgroup expressed confidence that the details would be hammered out and that eventually, providers will have the answers they need in order to comply with the law. In the meantime, though, few are expecting everything to fall into place by deadline. Paul Egerman, chairman and CEO of eScription and co-chair of the workgroup, explained it best during the meeting: “In the short term, there’s a train wreck coming.”

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