ONC delays permanent EHR certification program

The permanent health IT certification program for Meaningful Use of electronic health records, which was to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, has been pushed back until at least next summer by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, in a Federal Register notice today, said that after consulting with current ONC-Approved Accreditor, the American National Standards Institute, the organizations said there will not be enough ONC accredited testing laboratories or authorized certification bodies until the summer of 2012, reports Health Data Management.

"We base this conclusion on ANSI and [the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program's] estimations of the amount of time needed to complete the accreditation of certification bodies and testing laboratories, as well as our estimation of the time period for the National Coordinator to review the applications of accredited certification bodies and subsequently authorize them as ONC-ACB's" the notice states.

The ONC anticipates it will have six accredited certification bodies in the permanent program.

The notice also adds that aligning the sunset of the temporary certification program with the effective date of the final rule ensures providers, EHR vendors and others with enough accredited testing laboratories and ACBs to meet market demand. However, it leaves the door open for future delays, if necessary.

"Although we believe this timeline is feasible based on current expectations...we recognize unanticipated events may make it necessary to reconsider the sunset date for the temporary certification program," the notice says. "We will publish another Federal Register notice to inform the public of any changes to our expected sunset date for the temporary certification program."

For more information:
- read the Health Data Management article
- here's the Federal Register notice