Though it won’t be officially published until the 24th, Medical Justice has gotten its first look at the new “temporary” requirements for certification of EHRs. This tome, over 200 pages long, is a mandatory step for software developers of Electronic Health Records software. The software must facilitate record keeping and information exchange in accordance with those standards.
Health care providers who want to be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentives payments must be considered “Meaningful Users”; To be considered a “meaningful user,” one has to comply with all of that when applying for Certification. Theoretically, if a doctor’s office purchases Certified software, that should satisfy the requirements.
According to the Health Information Technology site, “Use of certified EHR technology is a core requirement for health care providers to become “meaningful users” and eligible for payment under Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs,” and “The program provides a way for organizations to become authorized by the National Coordinator to test and certify electronic health record (EHR) technology.
“To become an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB), an organization must submit an application to ONC to demonstrate its competency and ability to test and certify Complete EHRs and/or EHR Modules.”
What does all that mean in a practical sense? It means that the ONH is just now coming up with a Temporary standard for EHR software manufacturers to comply with. If a health care provider acquires certified EHR software, that provider should then be eligible to receive EHR incentives. If the software does not comply, then the incentives will not be paid.
Luckily, a good portion of those 200+ pages is superfluous. The document is full of Why We Did What We Did,” (otherwise known as CYA,) for example. In fact, the whole thing reads a bit like a running narrative of the process of developing this temporary standard, making it very difficult (read; Impossible) to get to “Just The Facts, Ma’am.”
There’s sure to be money in selling EHR software. No health care provider can or would want to write custom code at this point. The Testing and Certification process would be far to exhaustive to justify the time and expense. That means that most doctors’ offices will be transferring their patients over to new software and record keeping systems… and that’s going to be a ways off, since this Standard just came out, and is still designated as Temporary. While some of the code might be written, software developers aren’t going to be in any big hurry to write a complete system, only to find that later revisions in that standard require major revisions in the code.
The new standard is out, but the waiting is far from over.