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Sep 12

Why the 2015 Edition CEHRT Matters

Now that the QPP and EHR Incentive Program have pushed out the requirement for 2015 Edition certified software beyond 2018, the question remains “Should anyone care?” The definitive answer is “Yes.”

What does the CEHRT actually mean?

ONC-ACB certification for an HIT product means that an independent third-party testing organization approved by the ONC has tested and approved that the software offers functionality to help enable providers meet the ever-evolving clinical practice improvement and care coordination activities that are required for successful participation in CMS payment and incentive programs including the Medicare Quality Payment Program (QPP) and the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Each year the EHR Incentive Program – and now this year’s new QPP program – introduces changes that require providers to use health information technology (HIT) certified to work according to specific requirements with the intent of incentivizing value-based care, improving the secure sharing of health information, bettering care decisions across larger patient populations, and boosting patient engagement in their own care.

As the requirements change, so too must the HIT tools that enable providers to meet the requirements. While the 2014 Edition CEHRT is fine to meet current incentive and payment program requirements, the 2015 Edition CEHRT includes some critical improvements intended to foster positive advances in interoperability and ePHI security. The 2015 Edition CEHRT stamp of approval designates that a Health IT Module offers functionally to help enable providers meet the ever-evolving interoperability, security, clinical practice improvement, and care coordination activities that are required for successful participation in CMS payment and incentive programs including the Medicare Quality Payment Program (QPP) and the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

What’s in 2015 Edition CEHRT software?

While there is no longer a “Complete” certification for Health IT Modules, any 2015 Edition certified Health IT Modules need to meet base new requirements that prior certified versions did not have to meet. We’ll discuss a few critical improvements in detail and highlight some other changes that providers should expect from their 2015 Edition certified solutions. First, the new edition adopts stricter privacy and security certification criteria to ensure authentication, access control, and authorization, data integrity, trusted connection, and auditing of security sensitive functions. Next, the new certification requires new patient demographic and clinical health information, including an implantable device list. The new CEHRT also mandates new capacities to exchange electronic health information and integrate information from other sources, as well as updates to the standard Common Clinical Data (CCD) set to include immunizations, implantable devices, assessment and treatment plans, goals and health concerns. Some of the other changes providers should expect with the new certification include:

  • Additional audit logs to track EMR and medical record usage
  • Accessibility-centered design
  • Safety-enhanced design
  • Patient matching for transitions of care/referral summaries
  • More granular recording and exchange of patient race and ethnicity
  • Ability to record sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as social, psychological, and behavioral data (e.g., education level, stress, depression, and alcohol use)
  • New filtering options for clinical quality measures
  • Data segmentation privacy requirements to support the exchange of sensitive health information
  • Record and access information directly and electronically shared by a patient

A caveat – Not all certifications are equal

ONC used to offer a “Complete” certification where a vendor needed to meet base plus specific additional requirements in order to secure certification. Over time, the ONC launched an option for “Modular” certification which meant that a vendor could certify on some base requirements and then on additional requirements selected by the vendor. Today, all certifications are “Modular”. While every vendor can be certified, some may only be certified in a limited number of requirements. When confirming what your modular vendors are certified for and as you are evaluating software, check the Certified Health IT Product List.

The 2015 Edition CEHRT shows your vendor’s commitment to your security, privacy, interoperability, and profitability.

The leap in requirements from the 2014 to the 2015 Edition certification is significant. Many vendors have opted to delay the new certification until it’s required. Even going into Q3 2017, only vendors have achieved the new certification. Securing the new certification indicates a vendor’s ongoing focus on meeting complex and ever-changing regulatory, payment, and incentive program requirements with the goal of getting providers back to the business of healing. Our focus as an EMR vendor has always been on getting providers back to the business of healing through a commitment to early development, testing, and client upgrades to access the new certified version of the software.

How do I know if my vendor is certified and for what?

Contact your vendor to ask. And to ask for resources or materials related to their certified features and functionality. And search the Certified Health IT Product List to see what your vendor is certified for and how it stacks up against others.

Contact us to discuss implementing of switching to 2015 Edition EHRT MicroMD EMR.

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About the author,
Kristen Heffernan

Kristen is the general manager of MicroMD. She leads the operational teams that conceive, develop, launch, sell, implement, train and support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.

Learn more about
Kristen here.

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