EHNAC, WEDI to accredit practice systems

Seek to set a common baseline for practice management vendors, hopefully increase quality of products

Electronic health record certification has become critical to physician practices, but when it comes to another key piece of software for providers, assurance of of quality and functionality has not been so widely available.

"It’s going to be important for providers to know that their practice management systems vendors are willing and able to attain accreditation," said Lee Barrett, executive director of the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission. To that end, EHNAC aligned with the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange to create the Practice Management Systems Accreditation Program and announced the PMSAP at HIMSS14 on Thursday.

PMSAP is designed as a common baseline for Affordable Care Act requirements, HIPAA, privacy and security, best practices, business processes and performance.

"We’re looking to launch with three beta testers in the April timeframe," Barrett continued, adding that initial participants will be well-known technology vendors at least one of whom providers both practice management and electronic health records software, though he declined to state exactly who those will be until the arrangement is finalized.

After the beta phase, which will conclude at June’s end, EHNAC will hold a 60-day public comments period, and then in the fall it intends to make the service publicly available.

"At least by having accreditation of PMS it will raise the bar," Barrett said.

The American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association will be supporting this, Barrett explained, by asking their members to inquire about it with their vendors.

"Physician practices must have in place the appropriate software to both meet federal mandates and take full advantage of administrative simplification initiatives," MGMA CEO Susan Turney, MD, said in a prepared statement. "We anticipate that accreditation of these practice management systems will be an invaluable tool that can assist our members in the product selection process, and then in optimizing their solutions to access meaningful data."

Barrett added that there will be an ICD-10 component as well. While the ICD-10 portion won't involve formal testing, the self-attestation will verify that vendors have plans to upgrade their software for the new code set.