Certification Criteria – Finding the Best EHR System?

Two major final rules were released by CMS and the ONC on July 13, 2010.  The 864-page “Final Rule” covering EHR Meaningful Use was released by CMS, and the 228-page “Final Rule” covering Certification Criteria was released by ONC. The two rules are complimentary; that is, the features EHR Technology must have to qualify as “certified” are those that will allow EHR adopters to achieve meaningful use – and to qualify for incentive payments under the HITECH Act.

The certification criteria are extensive, and even include criteria such as Automated Measure Calculation, requiring the system to calculate the percentage-based measures in the Meaningful Use criteria performance measures.  This is an example of a functionality few EHR systems have at this time.

What makes an EHR System the the best EHR system for you?

But does a system or components of EHR Technology that meets the Certification Criteria mean that you are getting the best overall EHR for your organization?  While the certification criteria are extensive, they are really a floor for features and functionality.  Many systems, especially the larger vendors, are already capable of meeting most of the certification criteria, but there are many other features to consider, such as

  • Physician dashboards and In-baskets that make it easy to see and act on test results, reports and messages.
  • Templates or other methods of easily recording encounters.
  • E&M Coding support and advice to improve coding accuracy.
  • Consult and referral reports or letters.

These are just a few samples of the over 85 features an EHR/Practice Management system should have, that go beyond the Certification Criteria issued by ONC.

EHR System Certification is Next

So what should you do if you are on the verge of selecting an EHR system and the incentives in the HITECH Act are important to you?  It should not take the major vendors long to be able to outline in detail how their system meets this Summary of Certification Criteria, so the first thing is to demand such a comparison.

In a few weeks, there should be organizations approved to certify EHR Technology, and those organizations should be certifying systems by the end of 2010.

Learn more about a how to identify the best overall EHR for your practice by downloading a free EHR system due diligence reference guide from The Fox Group.  This booklet is a logical and sequential description of the process: The Art and Science of Evaluating, Selecting and Implementing an Electronic Health Records System.

When you need proven expertise and performance

Jim Hook, MPH

Mr. James D. Hook has over 30 years of healthcare executive management and consulting experience in medical groups, hospitals, IPA’s, MSO’s, and other healthcare organizations.

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2 thoughts on “Certification Criteria – Finding the Best EHR System?

  1. I think each specialty EHR has its own set of challenges or requirements which I believe is overlooked by in most EHR vendors in an effort to merely follows federal guidelines. This is resulting in low usability to the practitioners, thus less ROI, finally redundancy of the EHR solution in place.
    I think ROI is very important factor that should be duly considered when look achieve a ‘meaning use’ out of a EHR solution. Though one may get vendors providing ‘meaning use’ at a lower cost, their ROI / savings through the use of their EHR might be pretty low when compared to costlier initial investment. Found a pretty useful ROI tool that is pretty customizable and easy to use. It also accounts for the different specialty EHR’s too.

    Also this jungle of EHR vendors without quality products is going to make the life of practices very difficult. Though you provide them with many comparisons grids, in most cases they may end up with an EHR which does not support the needs of its speciality. I believe an speciality based EHR combined with appropriate certifications is the way ahead.

    I think the federal efforts of providing the right incentives to practices who implement certified EHR’s following the appropriate federal guidelines is a great initiative.

    Also the introduction of REC’s through the HITECH act. is a great way to avail of quality EHR solutions at competitive prices. The stiff competition among not only these REC’s but also among EHR vendors ( to become a preferred vendor of a given REC) will result in lot of positives to medical practioners.