ONC revokes two EHR product certifications — review your vendor contract warranties!

man planningOn April 25, 2013, the Officer of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced that it had revoked certification for two electronic health record (EHR) products that the ONC had previously certified for use as part of the incentive program implemented pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH Act).   The products for which ONC revoked certification are EHRMagic-Ambulatory and EHRMagic-Inpatient.  The ONC’s press release with additional information is available here.

Whether the providers who purchased these products in reliance on the previous ONC certification will be able to recoup their investment in these products may depend on the terms of any vendor agreement signed between the parties.  For providers who are purchasing ONC-certified products, this development highlights the importance of examining the provider’s EHR vendor agreement to ensure that it contains adequate warranty and indemnification provisions that will protect the provider in case the vendor’s product is de-certified by the ONC.  Importantly, without “certified EHR technology”, the provider will not qualify for the HITECH Act’s meaningful use incentive payments.

House Calls for Suspension of EHR Incentive Payments under HITECH Act

Hands on keyboard in circleOn Thursday, October 4, 2012, in a letter to Secretary Sebelius of the United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the United States House GOP called on HHS to suspend incentive payments for the adoption and implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) otherwise authorized under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH Act).  The GOP also asked HHS to delay the imposition of penalties on providers who choose not to use EHRs in their practice (such penalties that pursuant to the HITECH Act provisions are to take the form of reductions in Medicare reimbursements in 2015).  Continue reading

Final Rules for Stage 2 EHR Incentive Programs Released

First, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the long-awaited final rule to govern Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. The rule specifies the Stage 2 criteria that eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must meet in order to continue to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs.

  • Click here for the full text of CMS’s final rule.
  • Click here to see the fact sheet on CMS’s final rule.

Second,  the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) also announced a related final rule, which specifies the technical capabilities and related standards and implementation specifications that Certified EHR Technology will need to include to support the achievement of meaningful use by EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs under the EHR Incentive Programs.

  • Click here for the full text of the ONC rule.
  • Click here  to read a fact sheet on ONC’s standards and certification criteria final rule.

Stay tuned.  We will be posting more about these final rules in the days to come.

CMS Releases Proposed Rule for Stage 2 Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records

On Thursday, February 23, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, released a 455-page Proposed Rule specifying the Stage 2 criteria that eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must meet in order to qualify for Medicare and/or Medicaid incentives related to electronic health records (EHRs).  The Proposed Rule also proposes to modify certain Stage 1 criteria, as well as criteria that apply regardless of Stage, as previously published in the Final Rule on July 28, 2010 in the Federal Register.  The proposed provisions related to Medicaid (calculations of patient volume and hospital eligibility) would take effect shortly after the finalization of the Proposed Rule and would not be subject to the proposed one-year delay for Stage 2 meaningful use of a certified EHR.  The Proposed Rule states that the changes to Stage 1 would take effect for 2013, but that most changes would be optional until 2014.  Last but not least, the Proposed Rule addresses the Medicare payment adjustments that will take place for EPs, eligible hospitals and CAHs who fail to demonstrate a meaningful use of certified EHRs by 2015 and proposed exceptions to such adjustments.

Continue reading

Health IT Policy Committee Recommends Delay for Stage 2 Meaningful Use

UPDATE: On July 6, 2011, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., ONC Chief, backed the ONC Policy Committee’s recommendation to delay implementing Stage 2 meaningful use criteria.

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On June 16, 2011, Paul Tang, M.D. , as Vice Chair of the Health IT Policy Committee for the  Office of National Coordinator (ONC), wrote a letter to Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the ONC National Coordinator, requesting a delay in implementing Stage 2 of the meaningful use criteria that eligible healthcare providers must meet in order to obtain the monetary incentives for adoption of electronic health records (EHRs).  The monetary incentives were established pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH Act), which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  Dr. Tang states in the letter:

The HITPC has heard from both the vendor community and the provider community that the current schedule for compliance with stage 2 meaningful use objectives in 2013 poses a nearly insurmountable timing challenge for those who attest to meaningful use in 2011. With the anticipated release of the final rule for stage 2 in June, 2012, it would require EHR vendors to design, develop, and release new functionality, and for eligible hospitals to upgrade, implement and begin using the new functionality by the beginning of the reporting year in October of 2012. After careful consideration of the trade-offs between the urgency with which new functionality is needed and the ability to safely deliver and to effectively use the new functionality, the HITPC recommends that—only for those who begin to attest to MU in 2011—an extra year be provided to phase in the stage 2 expectations (ie., Stage 2 for those who attest in 2011 would begin in 2014).

The Committee asserts that the delay would only affect providers who implement Stage 1 in 2011.  This assumes that providers who wait until 2012 to implement Stage 1 would not have been ready to implement Stage 2 until 2014 anyway.  The letter also sets forth the proposals for stengthening Stage 1 criteria in Stage 2.  The Committee voted 12 to 5 in favor of the recommendations in the letter.  To read the entire 14-page letter, click here.