Hot on the heels of a Computer Sciences Corp. report telling private health insurers to get with the federal EMR and quality-reporting incentive program, the same consulting firm has issued a paper advising hospitals and doctors to start assessing whether their chosen systems will meet newly published rules governing EMR certification in the short term.
"Given that the process of certifying systems will start soon, providers should ask their vendors when they plan to apply for certification," write Erica Drazen, managing partner of CSC's Healthcare Group, and Jim D'Itri, a partner in the Falls Church, Va.-based company's Healthcare Strategy and Operations Group. "Because meaningful use incentives require a currently certified system, and the requirements will increase in 2013, system purchases and implementation plans should consider current and expected future requirements," they add.
"For example, bedside medication administration with bar code verification was not proposed as a Stage 1 requirement; however, it is almost certainly a future requirement for meaningful use incentives. Therefore, this capability should be included in any IT strategy or selection. Any vendor contracts should have provisions that include updates to meet future certification criteria as part of regular covered maintenance."
Providers must use certified technology to earn Medicare and Medicaid bonus payments.
ONC two weeks ago issued final rules for a temporary program that will govern EMR certification through the end of 2011. Private entities, including the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, must apply to be authorized certification bodies based on ONC's testing criteria. National health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal expects the first batch of certified EMRs to be ready by the fall.