EMR certification program to undergo significant changes
Though the process has not been entirely without its own struggles, the health care industry has adopted electronic medical record technology to a significant degree. Physicians have leveraged the systems to analyze large amounts of patient health information and improve overall quality of care. There continue to be criticisms of the technology as meaningful use progresses, but the industry is trending toward complete adoption of EMR systems.
However, according to a recent proposal by the workgroup for certification within the Health Information Technology Policy Committee, the process by which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services verifies which software products are valid according to meaningful use will undergo a massive change. This issue of vendor certification has been expected to be a problem for EMR adoption for months, and now those predictions seem like a reality.
Problems facing vendors
The challenges that physicians and other health care professionals have overcome through the implementation of EMR systems have been numerous and varied. Massive testing and rollout protocols have helped those of the industry to prepare themselves for the ever-changing system of health IT regulation, but vendors have not been that adaptive.
Health Data Management reported that the Health IT Policy Committee issued the release of a proposal that would overhaul the certification system the CMS would apply to EMR systems in the future.
Paul Tang, vice-chair of the Certification Hearing Workgroup, said in a hearing for the committee, that the changes would be aimed at creating a new functional system of software that is "more streamlined, more coordinated, and more timely process, as well as have ongoing feedback so that it can be continuously improved - at least in the regulatory environment."
Tang explained that the burden placed upon physicians to ensure verification of their EMR systems was too high. Though vendors should ostensibly take responsibility for acquiring such certification, delays and deadlines forced physicians and other health care professionals to seek it themselves.
Other voices chiming in
Though Tang believed the changes would help physicians, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives voiced contrary opinions.
"It does not provide assurance of interoperability," Jeff Smith, director of public policy for the CHIME, said in a statement. "It does not pretend better usability or quality. And, may I be so bold as to suggest, it says very little of security. It is a requirement of meaningful use."
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