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Feds Plan EMR Certification For Specialty Facilities

Posted on August 13, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Federal HIT leaders are planning to set up a voluntary program for testing and certification of EMRs used by behavioral health, long-term care and post-acute care, according to a story in Modern Healthcare. 

As things currently stand, they’re off the hook, as ARRA doesn’t require long-term or behavioral health facilities to buy certified EMRs.

These plans came to light last week at a webinar held by outgoing ONC head Farzad Mostashari, who said that his office is working on what the scope of such a program should be, MH reports. The webinar was held to discuss government officials’ reaction to public comments on how to improve interoperability.

In its original request for input, federal regulators noted that 4 in 10 hospitals were sending lab and radiology information to outside providers, though only one in four were  exchanging medication lists and clinical summaries, Modern Healthcare said.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of long-term acute-care hospitals, 4 percent of rehab hospitals and 2 percent of psychiatric hospitals had even a basic EMR, the feds reported.

Launching these specialty-focused options seems like a logical next step for the certification program, and a long-delayed one at that. EMR certification has been a fact of life for several years, since then-ONC chief David Brailer kicked off the formation of the CCHIT.

Over the long haul, however, such new certification options may not be worth much unless they’re better matched to provider needs. My colleague John, for one, thinks the certification will have to change to actually offer value to doctors and healthcare organizations.

What do you think, readers?  Do you think certification programs for EMRs are a waste of time, or do you see them doing anything meaningful to improve care?

CCHIT Who?

Posted on July 11, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

For those who have been following my blog posts since I first started blogging 8+ years ago on EMR & HIPAA, you’ll know that I was one of the biggest critics of CCHIT and EHR certification in general. I still think that EHR certification is useless, but at least it’s gotten better since ONC took over the EHR Certification and there are now a group of EHR certification bodies competing for business.

In fact, today I was thinking how CCHIT has essentially been pushed into the darkness. You could make the case that Drummond Group and ICSA Labs are more influential when it comes to EHR certification than CCHIT. Although, the reality is that most healthcare organizations couldn’t care less who certifies their EHR software. They just want to know that they can get their EHR incentive money.

Considering the announcement of the new ONC Health IT mark for EHR certification, I think we’ll continue to see the EHR Certification body brands continue to diminish. Although, next week we should see the press releases coming out about EHR certification for meaningful use stage 2.

I have been wishing for quite a while that there was an actual meaningful certification (pun intended). I’m talking about an EHR certification that actually provide value to doctors and healthcare organizations. As it stands now, I think that EHR certification is an added expense which adds little value. However, the HITECH act makes it necessary.

EMRs Have Certifications Yanked

Posted on April 29, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

A California EMR developer has become the first to have its certification for Meaningful Use taken away by the ONC.

EHRMagic-Ambulatory and EHRMagic-Inpatient, both of which were developed by Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based EMRMagic, failed to meet certification requirements, reports EMR Thoughts.

The de-certification process began when ONC and ONC-authorized certification body InfoGard Laboratories were notified that the EHRMagic products didn’t meet Meaningful Use certification requirements.

InfoGard Laboratories analyzed the information sent along with the notification and contacted the vendor. It then began the process of ONC-ACB required surveillance activities, according to HIN. At that point, InfoGard decided to test the two products for compliance with certain requirements.  EHRMagic’s products were then retested, and failed to meet criteria for Meaningful Use certification.

Fortunately for the company’s customers, no providers had yet attempted Meaningful Use attestation using these products. One can only imagine the frustration they would have faced if they attempted to attest in good faith and found out that the EMR product they were using wasn’t capable of supporting MU certification.

I’m left wondering whether providers would have grounds for a lawsuit against the offending vendor if they attempted certification with a product that didn’t support Meaningful Use, particularly if the vendor had any idea that this might be the case.

Realistically, it seems likely at some point in the future, some provider will be left high and dry by a certified product that shouldn’t have gotten the go-ahead.  My guess is that things will get nasty pretty quickly!

What Would It Take To Get More Hospitals On VistA?

Posted on January 22, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Recently, we shared the story of of a California community hospital that decided to bypass big vendors like Cerner and Epic and go for a VistA installation instead. While Oroville Hospital ended up spending $10 million on its VistA implementation, that turned out to be about half of what it would have spent on Cerner and its big-vendor cousins. Then, to boot, Oroville got a $5 million Meaningful Use payout.

Yes, without a doubt, Oroville had a different experience when it went with VistA than it would have if it hired on Epic and had armies of be-suited consultants descend onto its campus. Any open source project faces the risk that the fervor and volunteer labor that makes up the backbone of its ongoing development efforts.

But given how much flexibility hospitals get out of the deal, and how much they save, it seems to me that you’d still expect to see more VistA projects being mounted.  What would it take? Here’s a few ideas:

*  Get a CCHIT-certified VistA product out there:  Right now, hospitals don’t have such a choice. The only reason Oroville got its instance certified was thanks to special help from World VistA.

* Have more happy talk stories on how VistA can really work appear in serious business publications like Forbes:   Arguably, peer pressure is a major reason hospitals stick to a short list of popular solutions.  More coverage of VistA successes in major pubs creates its own buzz which may encourage IT leaders to reconsider their existing plans.

* VistA consulting firms need to become more common:  Right new there are a few firms, like Medsphere, that will walk hospitals through the VistA installation process. But what if, say, Accenture had a division devoted to VistA support?

There’s not a lot you can do if a hospital CEO is determined to buy Epic or Meditech or Cerner. But if they want to consider VistA, there’s a lot the industry could do to help.

CCHIT Inpatient EHR Certification Numbers

Posted on October 9, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

I’ve long had an interest in EHR certification. While the idea of certifying software sounds good on face, once you start digging in it starts to stink. At least I make my bias known up front. My least favorite phrase when it comes to EHR certification is that it provides an “assurance” to the EHR buyer. EHR certification doesn’t assure the EHR buyer of anything useful.

Considering my long interest in EHR certification, I decided I’d take a quick look at the various CCHIT EHR certifications that have been done in this new post-HITECH Act era of EHR certification. The number of EHR vendors is quite interesting as reported on the CCHIT website (I’ll look into the other ONC-ATCB in future posts).

In my quick count of ONC ATCB certified EHR products I counted 31 Hospital EHR (trying to take out the duplicates from the same EMR company). A number of those are ED EHR, but it’s interesting to see the scale of inpatient hospital EHR software that are certified by CCHIT.

Just for fun, I took at look at the full CCHIT certification for inpatient EHR. Only 4 inpatient EHR were listed.

The message here is that hospitals don’t use CCHIT’s full certification as a differentiator when they’re selecting an EHR. All they seem to care about is ONC-ATCB EHR Certification. While I still think it’s mostly redundant to meaningful use, I appreciate that it’s a step in the right direction.

When I first started Hospital EMR and EHR, I started this list of Hospital EHR vendors. It still needs some work, but I’d love to hear of other Hospital EHR companies that I should add to the list.

Are Certifications For “Home-Grown” EMRs Better?

Posted on July 30, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

In January of this year, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center became the first hospital to have its home-grown EMR certified by CCHIT under its EHR Alternative Certification for Hospitals (EACH) program. As some of you will know, EACH the program allows hospitals with legacy EMR systems to be certified as meeting Meaningful Use Standards.

At the time, EACH was in beta, and the process definitely seems to have had some bugs in it. In a blog entry telling the story of BIDMC’s participation, then-CIO John Halamka warned that hospitals dedicate at least 2 weeks and 5 FTEs to reviewing the required NIST scripts, finding ways to demonstrate key functions and practicing the demo.

Now, five more organizations have won EACH certification. Last week, CCHIT announced that Health Management Associates, New York University Langone Medical Center, Northwestern University, Tenet HealthSystem Medical and the University of North Carolina Health Care, according to an item in Healthcare IT News.

In the article, author Diana Manos argues that teaching hospitals, in particular, are concluding that getting EACH certification is smarter than buying hugely expensive new systems which are already certified.  Not only does it save money to get existing systems approved, it allows doctors to keep using the EMR they’re using today.

You may be wondering why only five hospitals have moved ahead to date if EACH can potentially save hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a good question. After all, if anything the government does can save on health IT dollars, you’d think they’d be all for it. But as always, there’s more to the picture.

For one thing, four of the five EACH-approved organizations were in same CCHIT pilot group as Beth Israel Deaconess, which means that the EACH program is just beginning its actual launch. And as Halamka noted, the process of meeting its demands can be quite taxing.

The only new player was the University of North Carolina, which can claim the honor of being the first certified under the official program. UNC chief technology officer John Baba told Healthcare IT News that the process was “very nerve wracking,” calling for a great deal of practice by the facility’s IT staff, doctors and nurses.  All told, UNC’s EACH preparations took six months, the magazine reports.

That being said, the EACH program could roar to life this year. Now that UNC has given things a kick-start, other prospective EACH participants are getting interested. Baba told the reporter that at least four other major universities have called to ask him for tips on how to navigate the program.