ONC Almost Ready to Announce EHR Certification Bodies

It looks as if we’ll soon know the names of the authorized testing and certification bodies (ATCBs) for electronic health records (EHRs). ATCBs will be the only authorities that can certify EHR products for meaningful use (and thus allow health care providers to earn American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, incentives). According to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, officials are reviewing applications and will likely announce approved ATCBs before the end of the summer.

Health Care Practitioners Generally Approve of Final Meaningful Use Rule

The final rule on meaningful use was released on July 13, and is significantly more flexible than earlier versions. Specifically, the final rule includes “core” and “menu” requirements. It appears that practitioners are generally happy with the final rule on meaningful use that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the National Coordination (ONC) released on July 13. The 864-page document, which took into account more than 2,000 comments received during a 60-day period, is significantly more flexible than earlier versions.

Docs Will Start Receiving Incentive Payments in May 2011

Physicians can sign up for the EHR incentive program in January 2011. To begin receiving payments, they must have demonstrated meaningful use of certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs) for 90 days—which means the first incentive payments will likely go out in May 2011. Now that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its final rule on meaningful use, the agency is preparing the systems that will trigger incentive payments—which physicians will start receiving as early as May 2011. The CMS will open registration for the incentive program in January.