HITPC workgroup supports narrowed focus of EHR certification program

After a lengthy and often colorful hearing with providers, vendors and other stakeholders on the merits and drawbacks of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s certification program, the Health IT Policy Committee’s Adoption & Certification Workgroup formally endorsed narrowing certification requirements to interoperability, clinical quality measures and privacy and security, and embarking on an end-to-end, holistic, rapid improvement process to improve certification.

The workgroup hosted the hearing on the certification program to evaluate its performance to date and solicit feedback from industry stakeholders on possible improvements. Among many other comments, stakeholders resoundly told the workgroup that the scope, compressed timeframe and resource needs of EHR certification hindered their ability to delivery care and innovate.

The specific recommendations are as follows:

  • Undertake a holistic, end-to-end look at the process of certification—from the objectives that motivate it, to the definitions of testing, to way the things are certified to auditing—and look how to create a more streamlined, coordinated and timely process that incorporates ongoing feedback so it can be continually improved. Committee members specifically are looking to conduct a kaizen--a rapid improvement process that brings together stakeholders to identify areas to reduce waste and improve efficiencies. This work will look at implementing short-term changes with an eye toward system-wide, long-term enhancements.
  • To address the feeling of being overwhelmed expressed by accreditors, vendors, developers and providers, the workgroup recommended limiting the scope of certification by restricting mandatory requirements to those that focus on interoperability, clinical quality measures and privacy and security.  

These recommendations will be forwarded to the full HITPC for feedback and endorsement. Final recommendations then will be submitted to the ONC.