On January 7, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) issued the final rule to establish the permanent certification program for health information technology. The temporary certification program, established through a final rule published on June 24, 2010, will continue to be in effect until it sunsets on December 31, 2011 -- or at a later date when the processes necessary for the permanent certification program to operate are completed.

The permanent certification program provides new features that are intended to enhance the certification of health information technology, including increasing the comprehensiveness, transparency, reliability and efficiency of the current processes used for the certification of electronic health record (EHR) technology. Meaningful use of "Certified EHR Technology" is a core requirement for eligible health care providers who seek to qualify to receive incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs as authorized by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. You can view the final rule here.