Does your EHR have the right certifications?

Ensure your certifications are correct so you don’t miss out on CMS payments

Certification is a big deal when it comes to selecting an electronic health record (EHR) provider. Certification is a standard you can use to gain a level of confidence about specific electronic health record functions. While certification does not guarantee that you will get a provider that does exactly what you need it to, it is one way to ensure that you are moving closer to that target.

What is EHR certification?

According to federal rules, electronic health record systems must meet a list of standards in order to be certified. These standards show a variety of functional and security capabilities as established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Independent physicians who participate in the Merit-Based Inceptive Payment System (MIPS) are require to meet the requirements under the EHR incentive program. CMS, meanwhile, states that it maintains the programs to ensure a focus on improving patient access to health information and reducing the amount of time and cost that is required for providers to comply with the program’s rules.

There are two main types of EHR certifications: CCHIT and ONC-ATCB. They both assess critical functions, but do so with a focus on different aspects.

CCHIT: CCHIT is short for the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. This is an independent, non-profit group founded in 2004 and that initiated EHR certification programs in 2006 as part of a federal government stimulus program that mandated financial incentives for the meaningful use of electronic health records.

ONC-ATCB: ONC-ATCB stands for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies. This is another electronic health record certification standard that grew out of a federal government effort to help certify that EHR systems meet the technical requirements needed for a clinician to meet meaningful use criteria.

These rules are embodied in Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT), which CMS notes is part of the criteria needed to avoid Medicare payment adjustments and to receive a Medicaid inventive payment. Basically, CEHRT assures users and EHR customers that an EHR system meets a number of standards, including security, functionality, and technological capability.

As ONC-ATCB notes, CEHRT supports:

    • Improved care coordination and the interoperable exchange of critical health information
    • Quality measurements for clinicians who want to understand and improve their performance on core measures
    • Improved patient-clinician relationships, which results in high patient satisfaction

When is EHR certification required?

It is important to notes that while EHR certification is not enforced, it is mandatory for hospitals that work with Medicare and Medicaid and that receive incentives. EHR vendors do not need to certify every product they sell, but by doing so they get listed as a complying vendor and are eligible for certification.

What are the EHR certifications?

As listed on, there are 60 certification criteria, and those criteria are organized into eight categories. This section lists those categories and briefly explains each criteria. Note that many of these certifications have detailed criteria that explain their purpose and function in great depth. To learn more about a specific certification and what it promotes, contact Eye Care Leaders.

  1. Clinical processes
    • Computerized Provider Order Entry — Medications: Electronic medication or prescription transmission
    • Computerized Provider Order Entry — Laboratory: Electronic transmission to intended recipient such as a lab
    • Computerized Provider Order Entry — Diagnostic imaging: Electronic orders for transmission to intended recipients such as a radiology department
    • Drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks: Real-time information on contraindications and/or possible medication interactions when ordering
    • Demographics: Proper patient identification for safety and efficient practice management
    • Problem list: List of the patient’s current health problems, injuries, chronic conditions, and other pertinent factors
    • Medication list: Electronic list of active and previous medications
    • Medical allergy list: List of known medical allergies for each patient
    • Clinical decision support: Patient-specific information that increases quality of care and improves health outcomes
    • Drug-formulary and preferred drug list checks: To reduce unforeseen medical costs for patients
    • Smoking status: To promote smoking cessation efforts
    • Family health history: To support informed clinical decision support for screening and prevention efforts
    • Patient-specific education resources: To help patients understand and make better decisions about their health
    • Implantable device list: To track the safety and performance of devices used by patients
    • Social, psychological, and behavioral data: To provide a more complete history of a patient’s overall health status.
  2. Care coordination
    • Care transitions: Ensures coordination and continuity of care as patients are transferred between different providers and settings
    • Clinical information reconciliation and incorporation: Reconcile and incorporate patient health information from external sources to maintain a current patient record
    • Electronic prescribing: A fast, efficient way to write, re-order, and transmit prescriptions
    • Common clinical data set summary record — Create and receive: Ensures coordination and continuity of care as patients move between providers both in the same and new health organizations
    • Data export: Access to data and the ability to export it to a different IT system or third-party
    • Data segmentation for privacy – Send and receive: The ability to send health data information securely
    • Care plan: Improves patient outcomes
  3. Clinical quality measurement
    • Clinical quality measures – Record and export: Record and export measures electronically
    • Clinical quality measures – Import and calculate: Import and calculate clinical quality measures electronically
    • Clinical quality measures – Report: Report clinical quality measures electronically
    • Clinical quality measures – Filter: Filter clinical quality measures electronically
  4. Privacy and security
    • Authentication, access control, and authorization: Safeguards patient information
    • Auditable events and tamper resistance: Health information actions are recorded by default
    • Audit reports: Create reports of events recoded in audit trail and audit logs
    • Amendments: Clinicians can easily append an amendment to a patient’s health record
    • Automatic access time-out: Prevents unauthorized viewing or access of electronic health information
    • Emergency access: Identified users can access health information during an emergency
    • End-user encryption device: Electronic health information can be encrypted and decrypted
    • Integrity: Ensure that a patient’s record is secure, protected, and accurate
    • Trusted connection: Ensures that transmission methods are secure
    • Auditing actions on health information: The ability to record auditable events and create an audit log
  5. Patient engagement
    • View, download, and transmit to a third party: Access to health information
    • Secure messaging: Securely send and receive messages
    • Patient health information capture: Provides health information to clinicians
  6. Public health
    • Transmission to immunization registries: Provides public health information on vaccine coverage
    • Transmission to public health agencies – Syndromic surveillance: Provides key indicators
    • Transmission to public health agencies – Reportable laboratory tests and values: Improves report timeliness and quality
    • Transmission to cancer registries: Collection and analysis of data
    • Transmission to public health agencies – Electronic case reporting: Reduces under-reporting
    • Transmission to public health agencies – Antimicrobial use and resistance reporting: Supports stewardship programs
  7. Health IT design and performance
    • Automated numerator recording: Submit percentage-based measure to CMS
    • Automated measure calculation: Electronically record numerators and denominators for CMS incentive programs
    • Quality management system: Identifies QMS used in certified capabilities
    • Accessibility-centered design: Encourages sound design
    • Application process – Patient selection, data category requests, and all data requests: Ensures access to health data
  8. Electronic exchange
    • Direct project: Low-cost, secure, and practical way to exchange health information electronically
    • Direct project, edge control, and XDR/XDM: Allows protocols, messaging, and processing to work together for secure electronic patient data transport

As you can see, EHR certifications are detail oriented and cover vast swathes of health care. To learn more about the EHR certifications that you need, contact Eye Care Leaders today.

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