ONC certification role to expand beyond Meaningful Use

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has shed some light on its position regarding its role in health IT, explaining that the proposed rule modifying its certification program and health IT certification criteria expands beyond the specific focus on the electronic health record incentive programs.

"It may be the final stage for Stage 3 but not the final stage for certification," Jodi Daniel, ONC's director of policy and planning, said at the Health IT Policy Committee meeting April. 7. The proposed rule's key goals are:

  • Interoperability
  • Access to data
  • User/market reliability
  • Leveraging certification to improve health across the care continuum   

For instance, the proposed rule changes "EHR module" to "HIT module" to support providers that use health IT but not EHRs, such as laboratory exchange; it also contemplates more access to providers not in the program to certification. 

Daniel pointed out that a number of programs outside of ONC use or propose to use ONC's certification program, such as the EHR donation anti-kickback safe harbor and Stark law exception, chronic care management, the Department of Defense's health care management system modification program and the Joint Commission.

When queried if ONC has the legislative and budgetary authority to expand certification to more "optional" areas, Daniel clarified that the agency's authority to create standards and certification criteria is not limited to EHRs and the Meaningful Use program or to any particular setting. ONC was working closely with legal counsel to "make sure we're not overstepping our bounds."

She urge people to comment on the proposed certification rule.

"This is new territory for us and welcome comment," she said.

The proposed rule and the proposed rule implementing Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program were published in the Federal Register March 30. Comments are due May 29.

In another presentation before the committee, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported that more eligible professionals (EPs) registered for the Medicaid EHR program than CMS had originally estimated, but that EPs in the Medicare program had higher attestation rates (86 percent) compared to those in the Medicaid program (32 percent); 46 percent had attested to adopting, integrated or upgrading (AIU) to certified EHR technology.

To learn more:
- access the meeting materials