CMS, ONC launch 'designated test EHR' program

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT have implemented their designated test electronic health record program, choosing vendors McKesson and Meditech as the first two EHR developers to be named "CMS designated test EHRs."

Measure 3 of Meaningful Use Stage 2's transition of care objective requires eligible professionals and hospitals to conduct one or more successful electronic exchanges of a summary of care document with a recipient that uses EHR technology designed by a different developer, or conduct one or more successful tests with a CMS designated test EHR during the reporting period.

Designated test EHRs will be registered on a software system, "EHR Randomizer", hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The NIST-hosted software system will randomly match an EP or EH with a designated test EHR that is designed by a different EHR technology developer from their own. Multiple certified EHR technologies will be designated as "test EHRs" and will be installed and running locally at the respective vendor and registered on the Randomizer. Only test data, not live data, is to be sent.

ONC and NIST conducted a pilot last fall with McKesson, Meditech and athenahealth to finalize the test procedures. The program was officially launched on Jan. 14.

The agencies would like to add vendors to the list, stating that "[w]e strongly encourage others in the EHR technology developer community to participate in the program to become a CMS designated test EHR."

Interoperability among different EHRs is a primary focus of the Meaningful Use program. One of the reasons Stage 2 of the program was extended and Stage 3 delayed was to ensure that CMS and ONC have a "clear understanding" of what's successful in Stage 2, including interoperability, before moving forward.   

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