ONC’s Final Rule for Permanent Certification Program

The final rule for the establishment of a permanent certification program for health information technology is has been released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

It will be used to permit organizations to declare electronic health records (EHRs) technology. The details of the permanent certification program are as follows:

  • Organizations are required to be recognized by an ONC-Approved Accreditor (ONC-AA) so they can become Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs) in order to test and verify health information technology.
  • The status of ONC-AA will be given to a single accreditation body at a time and the selection will be made on a competitive merit basis.
  • The ONC-AA is required to be updated every three years, during which time the ONC will be accepting renewal applications as well.
  • There will be six ONC-ACBs that will to renew the three year status for ONC-AAs.
  • ONC-ACBs have to carry out post-certification surveillance.
  • ONC-ACBs are allowed to carry out “gap certification,” giving the option for and conducting gap certification of already certified EHRs.
  • ONC-ACBs are permitted to certify other forms of HIT when applicable certification standards are already met.
  • ONC-ACBs must allow requests for newer editions of a previously certified EHR so the newer version can also be certified.

The ONC will apply to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) through its National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) to come up with a laboratory accreditation program for organizations that wish to be accredited to test health information technology. Testing will be enhanced by the use of NVLAP since NIST has credible technical expertise and has cordial relations with the ONC. The ONC’s main objective is to achieve a smooth transition to the permanent certification program.