The 2015 Health IT Certification Criteria was finalized two weeks ago, along with the Meaningful Use Stage 3 final rules and Stage 2 modifications. On October 16th, the final rules were officially published in the Federal Register, and now, in order to fully and effectively implement the final rules, the Office of the National Coordinator will be providing further documentation in the coming weeks.
According to ONC’s Director of the Office of Standards and Technology, Steve Posnack, “over the next few weeks, ONC will be releasing two types of documents to immediately help jumpstart health IT development efforts to the 2015 Edition.”
The first type of document will be Certification Companion Guides (CCGs), which will serve to clarify regulatory requirements set by ONC for health IT product developers. There will be a separate CCG for each meaningful use criterion, which will be updated as further changes are made.
The second type of document will involve draft 2015 Edition Test Procedures for each certification criterion. These will be published as the corresponding CCG for each criterion is published.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be working in conjunction with ONC to release “alpha” versions of 2015 Edition testing tools for vendors to have a chance to provide “early feedback and pilot testing.” ONC will also be holding training sessions to ensure full understanding of regulatory requirements.
Posnack states, “All of these steps illustrate our commitment to continually implement improvements to the ONC Health IT Certification Program.”
The 2015 final rule aims to
- Improve interoperability by adopting updated vocabulary and content standards
- Facilitate data exchange with enhanced data export and API capabilities
- Establish a framework to make ONC accessible to a variety of health IT
- Support CMS’ EHR incentive programs by adopting certification criteria aligning with Meaningful Use Stage 3
- Address health disparities by providing certification
- Ensure health IT systems are properly secure
- Improve patient safety with enhanced user-centered design principles
- Increase the reliability and transparency of health IT
- Provide health IT developers more flexibility and time for product development supporting interoperability, usability, and innovation.
For years now, the health IT community has been hearing about the importance of interoperability and how Meaningful Use is the path towards achieving that goal.
Improving interoperability is key in improving the overall quality of patient care. Proper data exchange ensures that both patients and providers are fully educated about material such as drug allergies, conflicting prescriptions, updated lab results, etc. The slightest misinformation can lead to disastrous consequences, which is why it is absolutely necessary for everyone involved to have the ability to safely and efficiently communicate such information.
With the latest updates to MU3 and the ONC Health IT Certification Criteria, it is starting to seem more and more likely that the industry is headed in the right direction. This enhanced focus on interoperability and improved data exchange could drive the results we need.
Author: Apoorva Anupindi