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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