According to a report at FierceEMR, The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT has issued its first surveillance guidance to assist its ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs), which certify which electronic health record products qualify for participation in the Meaningful Use Incentive program.
The ONC-ACBs are required by the permanent health IT certification program to conduct periodic surveillance of the EHR products they certify. The new guidance, issued July 2, outlines ONC's surveillance requirements, such as annual submission of a surveillance plan and surveillance approach. It flags four surveillance plan elements that ONC considers priorities for the ONC-ABCs to monitor:
- Exchange capabilities
- Safety-related capabilities
- Security capabilities
- Population-management capabilities
The guidance also states that the assessment of EHR developers' complaint processes is a priority of ONC, and that the ONC-ACBs' surveillance plans need to address how they will assess vendors' handling of complaints, especially safety-related ones.
And according to InformationWeek: The Certification Commission for Health IT, or CCHIT, is among the half-dozen ONC-ACBs that have been testing and certifying EHRs products under the temporary program. CCHIT will seek to be authorized under the permanent program as well, said CCHIT chair Karen Bell.
"The good news is that ONC has given us a year for the transition before the permanent program goes live," she said in an interview with InformationWeek. In the meantime, CCHIT will continue to test and certify products for ONC meaningful use certification.
The rules of the permanent certification program "also open the door" for organizations in the future to be authorized to test and certify other health IT products that aren't currently identified in the ONC's meaningful use programs, such as remote monitoring and other devices, said CCHIT's Bell.
As for CCHIT, Bell expects 2011 to be a busy year, not only as other vendors seek meaningful use certification, but also as many hospitals seek certification for their mix of various vendor systems and/or home-grown EHR systems.
"So far the biggest demand [for testing and certification] has been from vendors, but we expect demand will burst from hospitals," Bell said. CCHIT is piloting a testing and certification program for hospitals.