ONC kicks off EHR certification tool transition

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will shift its testing portfolio over the next five years to include as many industry-developed and maintained testing tools as possible.
By Bill Siwicki
11:49 AM
EHR certification tool

The ONC hopes to utilize the 21st Century Cures Act, passed on Dec. 16, 2016, to support testing tools for the certification program.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology revealed a new 5-year transition of its Health IT Certification Program’s existing testing portfolio to replace the current taxpayer-funded tools with as many industry-created options as possible.

The Health IT Certification Program then can more efficiently focus its testing resources and better align with industry-developed testing tools, which potentially could help support the “real-world testing” envisioned by the 21st Century Cures Act, the ONC said.

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In June, the ONC approved the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s testing method for e-clinical quality measures as an alternative to the existing test method used in the ONC Health IT Certification Program.

“This approval was a first step toward our five-year goal and is a clear signal that the program can and will approve industry-developed testing methods,” wrote Steven Posnack, director of the office of standards and technology at the ONC, in the Health IT Buzz blog. “Similarly, we are actively coordinating with standards development organizations, such as the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs for e-prescribing testing, and others that administer health IT interoperability testing tools.”

[Also: House budget backs Trump's drastic cuts to ONC]

These tools ultimately could serve as the sole testing method approved by ONC for use in the program, Posnack added.

“Additionally, we envision a future where program participants, including the ONC-Authorized Testing Labs and Certification Bodies, individually, collectively or through partnerships with the private sector develop testing tools, similarly to what stakeholders do in other industry programs,” he wrote.

ONC plotted out a 5-year transition noting that such changes will require time and potentially new cost structures depending on a variety of factors, including who develops the tools and the expenses that go into administering them.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com

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