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ONC committee seeks feedback, looks toward permanent certification program

The Health Information Technology Standards Committee (HITSC) implementation workgroup is open to feedback pertaining to the development of applications that meet Stage 2 meaningful use criteria.

Since using a certified EHR system is mandatory in achieving meaningful use, the workgroup is also set to determine the best methods of communication for testing and certification requirements. Currently, in the temporary program, the entities that verify EHR software both test and certify EHR systems. In a permanent program, separate entities will test and certify EHR systems.

Policymakers believe having one organization test and another certify which systems adhere to federal standards will speed up overall adoption and lend more reliability to the certification process. In other words, it’s a way for ONC to manage the inevitable influx of adopters as the deadline approaches.

Obtaining feedback also helps gauge the progress of the EHR temporary program. It was established through a final rule on June 24, 2010, by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) for organizations to become authorized to test and certify EHR technology, and will continue until the permanent program kicks in. Because of the pace in which the HITECH Act became a law, ONC could not implement a permanent certification program in time, hence the temporary program. A final rule explaining the permanent program has been announced and is slated to launch at some point on or after Jan. 1, 2012. A concrete date, however, has not been announced.

There are two methods to submit questions and comments. One way is to post on ONC’s federal advisory committee blog. Those comments will be accepted on a rolling basis. For those who don’t want to post directly on the blog, download a three-page survey and email it back to [email protected] with “Implementation WG Comments” in the subject line.

All feedback is due no later than by 5 p.m./Eastern Time on June 17, 2011.