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.

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.

Final Rule on ACOs encourages EHR adoption but eliminates “meaningful use” requirement

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today, October 20, 2011, that the use of certified electronic health records (EHRs) will be the highest-weighted quality measure for an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) under the new Medicare Shared Savings Program.

ACOs are designed to encourage primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals, and other health care providers to coordinate their care. The CMS Final Rule on ACOs bases the amount of shared savings that an ACO may receive for its performance on four domains of quality: 1) quality standards on patient experience; 2) care coordination and patient safety; 3) preventive health; and 4) at-risk populations.  To earn shared savings the first performance year, providers must report across all four domains of quality, which include a total of 33 quality measures.  Providers will begin to share in savings based on how well they perform on 23 of the 33 quality measures in the second performance year and on 32 of the 33 measures in the third performance year. 

Measure 20 of the 33 quality measures requires ACOs to report the percentage of primary care providers (PCPs) who successfully qualify for an EHR Incentive Program payment.  CMS expanded the scope of PCPs who can be counted in this measure by eliminating the requirement that the PCP be a “meaningful EHR user” as defined in 42 C.F.R. § 495.4 of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009.  CMS stated that it “decided to . . . expand [measure 20] to include any PCP who successfully qualifies for an EHR Incentive Program incentive rather than only including those deemed meaningful users.”

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CMS Posts Helpful EHR Incentive Program Registration Guides

CMS has posted very helpful Electronic Health Record (EHR) Registration User Guides, one for Eligible Hospitals and one for Eligible Professionals. The Guides provide an excellent overview of the path to receiving EHR Incentives available under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.  As I pointed out in my previous post, CMS is encouraging Eligible Hospitals and Eligible Professionals to go ahead and register in advance of making an attestation to meaningful use of a certified EHR.  CMS has set up the system so that registrants do not have to fear that registration alone could somehow subject them to penalties later for failing to follow through with implementing and making an meaningful use of an EHR.  This is evident by reviewing the way in which the registration system is broken down into four parts or “tabs”: Registration, Attestation,  Status and Account Management.
Registration Tab. Here is where hospitals and physicians (as well as other practitioners eligible for incentives under State Medicaid programs) can register for the EHR Incentive Program.  Registrants also will access this Tab to take one of the following actions: Continue an Incomplete Registration, Modify an Existing Registration, Resubmit a registration that was previously deemed ineligible, Reactivate a Registration, Switch Incentive Programs (Medicare/Medicaid), Switch Medicaid State, and Cancel Participation in the EHR Incentive Program.
Attestation Tab.  Under this Tab is where registrants can submit their Attestation of meaningful use when ready.  This Tab also provides options and instructions for Registrants wanting to: Continue an Incomplete Attestation, Modify an Existing Attestation, or Discontinue an Attestation.
Status Tab.  Here, registrants can view the status of Registration, Attestation and their EHR Incentive Payment.
Account Management Tab.  Here, registrants can Update Account Information, Request Access to Organizations, or Remove Access to Organizations.
The Hospital Guide can be accessed here and the Eligible Professional Guide can be accessed here.

CMS Opens Registration for EHR Incentives on January 3, 2011

Hands on keyboard in circleThe U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated its HITECH electronic health records webpage to include information about registration for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Per CMS, registration opens on January 3, 2011 and a link will be available on the CMS HITECH website here. CMS encourages providers to register for the Medicare and/or Medicaid EHR Incentive Program(s) as soon as possible. Providers can register before they have a certified EHR.  CMS encourages providers to register even if they do not have an enrollment record in PECOS!

CMS also notes that although the Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs will begin January 3, 2011, not all states will be ready to participate on this date. As of this posting, registration will be available on January 3, 2011 for the following states:

Alaska — Iowa — Kentucky — Louisiana — Oklahoma — Michigan — Mississippi — North Carolina — South Carolina — Tennessee — Texas

Information on when registration will be available for Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs in specific States is posted here.  For more information from CMS about the EHR Incentive Program, click here.