The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced a proposed rule on February 24, 2012, containing ONC’s plans for “2014 Edition EHR certification criteria.” These proposed new and revised certification criteria would establish the technical capabilities and specify the related standards and implementation specifications that Certified EHR Technology would need to include to, at a minimum, support the achievement of meaningful use by eligible professionals (“EPs”), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (“CAHs”) under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs beginning with the EHR reporting periods in fiscal year and calendar year 2014.

The proposed new and revised criteria for certification of EHR technology is intended to enhance care coordination, patient and family engagement, interoperability, and the security, safety and efficacy of EHR technology. ONC also proposes revisions to the definition of Certified EHR technology in order to provide flexibility for EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs. It proposes that, beginning in FY/CY 2014, such entities would be required to have a “Base EHR” (EHR technology that includes the fundamental capabilities all providers would need to have), as well as the additional EHR technology necessary to meet the meaningful use objectives and measures for the stage of meaningful use that they seek to meet, and to capture, calculate, and report clinical quality measures.

ONC also proposes revisions to the permanent certification program for health information technology, which includes changing the program’s name to “ONC HIT Certification Program.” The proposed rule would establish processes to permit utilization of newer versions of adopted minimum standard code sets, modify the certification processes for certifying EHR modules, and eliminate the certification requirement that every EHR module be certified to the privacy and security certification criteria. ONC would also establish methods for representing certified EHR technology and would require that certification test results be made available to the public.

The proposed rule, which is scheduled for publication in the March 7, 2012 Federal Register, currently may be found at the following web address: 04430_PI.pdf. The deadline for the submission of comments is 60 days after the date of publication.