ONC Scraps Proposed 2015 Edition EHR Testing Criteria

Joseph Conn | Modern Healthcare | September 10, 2014

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has abandoned its proposal to create nonbinding testing and certification criteria intended to prepare EHR vendors for coming requirements for electronic health-record systems.  In a 187-page final rule leased Wednesday, the ONC formally scrapped the plan for a voluntary 2015 Edition of EHR testing and certification criteria.  The changes will have little to no effect on providers and the ONC estimates that only “a small number of EHR technology developers and other health information technology developers will seek to be tested and certified” to those provisions of this new rule.

The ONC establishes hoops that health IT developers must jump through to qualify their systems for use by providers in the $25 billion EHR incentive payment program created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Providers' Stage 2 meaningful use and other requirements were revised in a final rule released by the CMS last month.  The CMS rule revisions gave hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals more flexibility in meeting both Stage 1 and Stage 2 meaningful-use criteria under the program and rolled back the start date of Stage 3 until fiscal and calendar years 2017. Stage 3 had been scheduled to start in fiscal and calendar years 2016.

The original Stage 2 rule and attendant testing and certification criteria were revised earlier this year, due in part to the reported failure of a significant number of EHR vendors to keep pace with the 2014 Edition updates and the consequent inability of providers to implement those updates in time for them to meet the original Stage 2 compliance deadlines.  At the same time, the agency floated the idea of creating the voluntary 2015 Edition to give clearer signals to the industry and avoid such lags...