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Technical requirements for EHRs released.

The federal government published regulations that will allow for temporary certification of electronic health records--the first step in helping physicians and other providers get the software and hardware required to be eligible for bonus payments under federal health programs.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the rule "establishes processes that organizations will need to follow in order to be authorized by the National Coordinator to test and certify [electronic health record] technology."

"We hope that all [health information technology] stakeholders view this rule as the federal government's commitment to reduce uncertainty in the health IT marketplace and advance the successful implementation of EHR incentive programs," Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology, said in a statement.

Certification means that the EHR package has been tested and includes the required capabilities to meet the "meaningful use" standards issued by ONC. Hospitals and physicians will have the assurance that the certified EHRs can help them improve the quality of care and qualify for bonus payments under Medicare or Medicaid.

By purchasing certified EHR technology, hospitals and eligible professionals will be able to make EHR purchasing decisions knowing that the technology will allow them to become meaningful users of electronic health records, qualify for the payment incentives, and begin to use EHRs in a way that will improve quality and efficiency in our health care system, Dr. Blumenthal said.

This rule is for a temporary program. A final rule on permanent certification of EHRs will be issued in the fall.

For more information about the temporary certification program and rule, please visit

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Title Annotation:PRACTICE TRENDS
Author:Ault, Alicia
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2010
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