ONC Final Rule Seeks to Simplify Health IT Certification

Rule Incorporates AAFP's Input

September 15, 2014 09:07 am News Staff

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), announced on Sept. 10(www.hhs.gov) the release of a final rule that would give physicians and other health care professionals, as well as health IT developers and consumers, more flexibility in terms of certification of electronic health records (EHRs).

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"This final rule reflects ONC's commitment to continually improve the certification program and respond to stakeholder feedback," said National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., in a news release.

Furthermore, the rule "provides more choices for health IT developers and their customers, including new interoperable ways to securely exchange health information. It also serves as a model for ONC to update its rules as technology and standards evolve to support innovation," she added.

That final rule was published in the Sept. 11 Federal Register.(www.gpo.gov)

According to the final rule, rather than adopt the "voluntary edition" criteria the ONC initially proposed, the agency instead adopted a small subset of the original proposals and recast them as optional 2014 Edition EHR certification criteria with a new moniker: "2014 Edition Release 2."

"The final rule introduces multiple means to reduce regulatory burden, increase regulatory flexibility for stakeholders and promote further innovation," said the Federal Register notice.

Among provisions in the final rule are 10 optional and two revised certification criteria for inclusion in the 2014 edition. The agency also discontinued its "Complete EHR" certification concept.

The AAFP had addressed these proposals in an April 24 letter(3 page PDF) to DeSalvo.

In that letter, AAFP Board Chair Jeff Cain, M.D., of Denver, voiced the AAFP's concerns about the "already daunting complexity of the ONC's EHR meaningful use program" and urged the ONC to avoid adding another lay of complexity by creating a new voluntary certification level.

Cain also noted in the letter that the AAFP supported the ONC proposal to discontinue the idea of complete EHR certification.

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