Blumenthal: Certified EHRs should be available by fall

The health IT community should know by this fall if EHRs they have purchased or are considering purchasing are certified under the federal government's new, temporary certification program, national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal said, according to Healthcare IT News. Blumenthal made the pronouncement on a conference call with reporters after unveiling the final rule for a short-term certification program last Friday.

Vendors may be cutting it close, though, since the Medicare and Medicaid bonuses for "meaningful use" of EHRs begin Oct. 1 for hospitals and Jan. 1 for physicians. However, providers will only have to demonstrate meaningful use for 90 consecutive days to earn full credit for the first year of the program, according to proposed rules. CMS is expected to finalize its regulations for meaningful use within the next week.

"Certification was part and parcel of the process of making incentives work, and making the electronic health system work," Blumenthal said. "Certification provides a basic guarantee to the purchasers--mostly providers of care--that the electronic health record they purchase will be capable of meaningful use."

The temporary program is intended to be "a bridge to the second, permanent certification," Blumenthal said. The permanent process should be announced before the end of 2010, he said.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will begin accepting applications July 1 for entities wishing to be authorized testing and certification bodies. The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology announced its intention to apply, and the Austin, Texas-based Drummond Group also has expressed an interest in starting an EHR certification program.

For more:
- have a look at this Healthcare IT News story