ONC's Jacob Reider: Proposed voluntary EHR certification addresses 'bugs'

Officials with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT spoke at length Tuesday at HIMSS14 in Orlando, Fla., about proposed rules for 2015 electronic health record certification unveiled last Friday.

ONC Chief Medical Officer Jacob Reider (pictured) said that the certification looks to address challenges in the certification criteria that some might consider "bugs."

"They were referencing some stuff that was finalized quite some time ago," Reider said. "The standards were aging standards. We found some places where the market wasn't responding the same way that regulators had expected it to respond, and it simply needed to be repaired."

Reider also called the effort by ONC--the first to not be tied to Meaningful Use regulations--predictable, adding that it helps agency officials to be aware of what's coming down the pipe so they can adequately prepare themselves.

"We wanted to reduce the quantity of regulatory work with each turn of the regulatory wheel," Reider said. "By reducing the quantity and increasing the frequency, what we do is we can get more of a heads up about what happens down the line."

Steve Posnack, director of the federal policy division at ONC, dove more into the complexities of the criteria in reiterating Reider's point. Posnack explained that there are different cycles of peaks and valleys that vendors go through with each set of certification, and that this voluntary certification helps to break up the time in between such cycles, in essence reducing the downtime for vendors.

During a brief Q&A session following the presentation, however, one vendor representative called Posnack's model a "misapprehension," saying that for vendors, there are no valleys--and only peaks--when it comes to certification.

Both Posnack and Jodi Daniel, director of the ONC's Office of Policy Planning, explained that the newly proposed certification criteria are not tied to Meaningful Use Stage 3 and not meant to forecast Stage 3 policy, even though 30 to 35 pages focus on 2017 certification criteria topics under consideration. Posnack said ONC is merely looking for feedback.

Daniel said ONC expects to come out with a 2017 proposed certification rule later this year for Stage 3.