Hospital officials were divided in their reactions to news late Thursday that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services had revoked the certification of two electronic health record systems for failure to meet the standards of the Meaningful Use incentive program.
According to an announcement from HHS, EHRMagic-Ambulatory and EHRMagic-Inpatient, both developed by EHRMagic, Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., do not meet required functionality. Providers can't use the tools to meet the requirements of the Meaningful Use program and, according to the HHS, "should not have passed certification."
Edward Marx (right), a FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member and vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in North Texas, told FierceEMR via email that he likes the news, as it shows the program is about accountability and integrity.
"It shows that the program is not a rubber stamp," he said, via email. "And it is a serious warning to those just playing the game that this is serious and this is about sustainability."
FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member Todd Richardson, vice president and CIO for Wausau, Wisc.-based Aspirus, Inc., said via email that hearing about the news made him glad to have partnered with a "big player" in the market who isn't likely to suffer a similar fate.
"Any practice that moves from paper to an electronic system takes a huge hit in productivity and it is a change management nightmare in most cases for those involved in the conversion," Richardson said. "I can only imagine what the cartoon bubbles say for the physicians who are now looking at having to perhaps change to another system."
Richardson (left) added that such news perhaps speaks to the overall confusion and lack of clarity in many of the Meaningful Use standards.
"I've personally set through countless hours of dialogue with our vendor, other providers and even 'experts' from [the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT] in an attempt to clarify the standards," he said.
FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member Stephen Stewart, CIO at Henry County Health Center in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, said via email that such news is both a blessing and a curse.
"My view is this is nearly catastrophic to the users," Stewart (right) said. "But if the product is bad enough to get certification revoked, moving on is probably in the best long term interests. ... Heads could roll on this one, but you have to have the courage to face the music, and deal with the realities. A lot will depend on how the vendor is able to respond and how bad the product was to begin with."
HHS indicated that ONC and InfoGard Laboratories, Inc. one of the authorized certification bodies (ACBs), conducted surveillance and retested the products. The products failed re-testing.
"We and our certification bodies take complaints and our follow-up seriously," National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari said in a statement. "By revoking the certification of these EHR products, we are making sure that certified electronic health record products meet the requirements to protect patients and providers."
ONC did not indicate how many complaints it had received about the two EHR products. However, Carol Bean, director of ONC's Office of Certification and Testing, and Asara Clark, program analyst reiterated in a Health IT Buzz blog post this week that ONC monitors its electronic mailbox daily for questions and complaints, and investigates every complaint it receives. They also said that ACBs conduct both proactive and reactive surveillance of EHR products.
ONC also maintains a list of certified health IT products on its website.
Dan Bowman contributed to this article.