HIMSS pushes Tom Price to delay 2015-edition EHR deadline

Organization asks HHS to move the deadline from Jan. 1, 2018, to July 1, 2018, to account for government delay in releasing final specs.
By Bill Siwicki
02:16 PM

HIMSS has asked U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to give healthcare providers another six months to begin using 2015 Edition Certified electronic health records because the government was delayed in releasing final software specifications.

The deadline should be moved back from Jan. 1, 2018, to July 1, 2018, the health IT industry group wrote in a Tuesday letter to Price.

Provider organizations often prefer to have at least one full year to implement new software, which would include the 2015 certified product. Some of the final software testing modules were not released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT until early 2017. Epic and Allscripts have released products certified with the 2015 edition, but other major EHR vendors have not.

[Also: EHR vendors uneasy about meaningful use certification]

Interoperability proponents want ONC to stay with the original deadline, saying delays slow interoperability progress. But HIMSS sees the need for more time as important for testing purposes.

“We are increasingly concerned with the current level of available certified vendor products, as well as the implementation timeline for the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria,” HIMSS wrote in the letter. “As of early April 2017, very few vendor products are certified to the revised 2015 Certification Criteria; this jeopardizes the requirement that health IT must be certified to the 2015 Edition for the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs and the Quality Payment Program (QPP).”

[Also: Stage 3 meaningful use proposed rule and certification criteria released]

HIMSS recommends moving the start date of the requirement to increase the likelihood that providers, vendors and consultants have the necessary time to ensure products complete the certification process, are fully tested and implemented, and staff training and workflow adjustments are achieved.

“We purposely chose July 1, 2018 as the recommended start date... to reinforce the importance of adopting the criteria and to fulfill our commitment to health IT supporting healthcare transformation,” HIMSS wrote. “HIMSS supports the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria published in October of 2015. The 2015 Edition focuses on greater interoperability for clinical health purposes – opening up the certification program to other types of health IT, addressing health disparities, and including a new streamlined approach to privacy and security.”

While the 2015 Edition Certification Rule was finalized in advance of HIMSS’ recommended 18-month threshold, the healthcare community did not receive all of the finalized test tools required for software development and certification testing readiness until very recently, HIMSS added.

“Given the limited time horizon in 2017 for the necessary implementation of the 2015 Edition, and to ensure that certified software is available for implementation, HIMSS believes that despite their best efforts, many providers will find meeting the January 1, 2018, requirement extremely challenging or impossible,” HIMSS wrote.

The HIMSS letter was signed by Michael H. Zaroukian, MD, chair of the HIMSS North America board of directors, and H. Stephen Lieber, president and CEO of HIMSS.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT

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