ONC Implementation Workgroup Drafts New Certification Criteria for MU Stage 2

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's implementation workgroup drafted recommendations for new certification criteria Sept. 26 that will align future certification requirements for electronic health records with proposed Stage 2 “meaningful use” criteria.

The proposed certification criteria would ensure that ONC-certified EHRs would possess all the capabilities necessary to meet the criteria for Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use incentive programs, Elizabeth Johnson, co-chair of the implementation workgroup and vice president of applied clinical informatics for Tenet Healthcare Corp., said.

The workgroup recommended adding new certification criteria and modifying some existing criteria in the areas of:

  • drug-to-drug and drug allergy interaction checks;
  • electronic prescribing in inpatient settings;
  • clinical decision support use in ambulatory and inpatient settings;
  • recording advance directives in ambulatory settings;
  • exchange of hospital laboratory results;
  • recording electronic patient notes; and
  • multiple criteria related to health information exchange.

ONC's HIT Policy Committee on June 8 approved, by a majority vote, proposed recommendations for Stage 2 meaningful use criteria (see previous article).

Many optional criteria in Stage 1 of the EHR incentive programs could become mandatory in Stage 2 of the programs, and some new criteria could be added for Stage 2, according the proposed recommendations.

A proposed rule for the Stage 2 meaningful use criteria is expected from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the beginning of 2012. ONC is also expected to update existing EHR certification and standards rules to match the meaningful use criteria.

New Standards, Clarified Definitions

The recommendations from the implementation workgroup also include suggested EHR standards and clarified definitions of common terms for providers and hospitals.

For many of the meaningful use objectives related to health information exchange, such as submissions to immunization registries and electronic prescribing, the implementation workgroup included recommendations for the adoption of the Health Level 7 Version 2.5.1 standard.

Additionally, as the meaningful use incentive programs evolve toward Stage 3 in 2015, so will the standards evolve toward universal use of SNOMED-CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine—Clinical Terms) by providers and hospitals participating in the incentive programs, the workgroup said.

SNOMED CT is a standard designated for use in federal systems for the electronic exchange of health data.

The workforce also recommended clarifying the definitions for “active patient,” “clinically relevant,” and “longitudinal care” to further simplify the certification testing process.

The implementation workgroup plans to present the Stage 2 certification criteria recommendations to the HIT Standards Committee at the Sept. 28 meeting.

Materials from the meeting are available at http://healthit.hhs.gov/FACAs by clicking on the Aug. 10 implementation workgroup entry on the federal advisory committee calendar.