ONC Names the Initial EMR Certification Bodies

The Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC) has announced the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), Chicago, Ill. and the Drummond Group Inc. (DGI), Austin, Texas, as the first technology review bodies which have been approved to examine and certify electronic medical record (EMR) systems for conformity with certification criteria that was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year.

With this announcement the EMR vendors can now begin to get their products licensed as fulfilling the meaningful use criteria released in July by CMS, which is an essential step in the nationwide effort to encourage adoption and effective use of EMRs by healthcare providers.

“In less than two months following the issuance of final meaningful use rules, we have approved our initial ONC-ATCB certifiers. EHR vendors can immediately begin to get their products certified,” said David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for Health Information Technology. According to Blumenthal, “this is a crucial step because it ensures that certified EHR products will be available to support the achievement of the required meaningful use objectives, that these products will be aligned with one another on key standards, and that doctors and hospitals can invest with confidence in these certified systems.”

EMR certification is an important part of the extensive project undertaken by Congress and President Obama contained in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. HITECH formed incentive payment programs to facilitate health providers as they switch from paper-based medical records to EMRs. Physicians and other eligible professionals, by fulfilling the requirements of meaningful use, can receive up to $44,000 through Medicare and $64,000 through Medicaid.

“Multiple steps are underway to carry out the intent of Congress in supporting rapid and effective adoption of EMRs throughout our health care system. The naming of initial ONC-ATCBs is one important step,” said Dr. Blumenthal.

CCHIT and Drummond both will launch their HHS-approved certification program on September 20th, 2010.

For the past four years CCHIT has already been certifying EMR technology through its own program. “As the instigator of EHR certification, CCHIT has tested and certified hundreds of EMRs,” CCHIT chair Dr. Karen M. Bell said in a statement. “Our experience has enabled us to promptly adapt our processes to accommodate the certification and standards adopted by HHS to support the meaningful use of EMRs by health care providers.”

According to Rick Drummond, CEO of the Drummond Group, the company has been working thoroughly for many months to meet the strict criteria set forth by ONC to become certified as an ONC-ATCB.

CMS will ultimately launch an online system for providers to register and attest for the EHR incentive programs.

For more information: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/199426.php