ONC Releases Final Rule for Stage 2 Standards and Certification

Final Stage 2 EHR Standards and Certification

August 23, 2012 – In a rather unceremonious way, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) released the long awaited Stage 2 final rule yesterday. The rule is titled; The Health Information Technology: Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria for Electronic Health Record Technology, 2014 Edition; Revisions to the Permanent Certification Program for Health Information Technology. The rule will go into effect 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register.

In an HHS news release yesterday, Secretary Kathleen Seblius said, “The changes we’re announcing today will lead to more coordination of patient care, reduced medical errors, elimination of duplicate screenings and tests and greater patient engagement in their own care”.In the email annoucement from the ONC, they reference their new web page for more information and a fact sheet. This is a companion rule to the CMS final rule also released. The ONC believes the final rule relects their “commitment to reduce regulatory burden; promote patient safety and patient engagement; enhance EHR technology’s interoperability, electronic health information exchange capacity, public health reporting, and security; enable clinical quality measure data capture, calculation, and electronic submission to CMS or states; and introduce greater transparency and efficiency to the certification process”.

Summary from the final rule: With this final rule, the Secretary of Health and Human Services adopts certification criteria that establish the technical capabilities and specify the related standards and implementation specifications that Certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) Technology will need to include to, at a minimum, support the achievement of meaningful use by eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs beginning with the EHR reporting periods in fiscal year and calendar year 2014. This final rule also makes changes to the permanent certification program for health information technology, including changing the program’s name to the ONC HIT Certification Program.