When adopting an electronic health record (EHR) system, you need to be confident you are choosing one that will integrate with the delivery of healthcare in your practice, clinic or hospital. In addition, you want a solution that will help you obtain available government incentives. Choosing a certified EHR, as outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will help you meet those goals by guaranteeing that the EHR software meets the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) requirements for interoperability, functionality and security.
What is an ONC-ATCB Certified EHR?
ARRA requires healthcare providers to use certified EHR technology by 2015. In order to be certified, an EHR must include features that allow users to show Meaningful Use (MU), which has three components:
- Using the EHR in a significant way, such as ePrescribing or labs
- Using the electronic exchange of medical information to improve the quality of healthcare
- Using EHR technology to report clinical quality measures
How Does an EHR Become Certified?
The EHR vendor must apply to and successfully complete testing of their solution with an Office of the National Coordinator Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB). A solution can be certified as a Complete EHR, meaning it meets all of the requirements, or a Modular EHR, meaning the physician will need to purchase additional components to meet all of the requirements.
Testing EHR Systems for Certification
Standardized testing ensures that an EHR is interoperable and meets the Meaningful Use requirements. An EHR is tested at three levels:
- Instance testing ensures information entered in a specific field is correctly maintained. For example, information entered as a discharge summary should be maintained and retrievable as that document.
- System testing ensures that different parts of the system work together. For example, you should be able to match patient registration information to patient chart information such as allergy and medications and display it together on a screen.
- Peer-to-peer testing ensures that providers can securely exchange data.
Importance of Interoperability
Certified EHR systems must be interoperable – meaning that the softwares’ individual components are able to work together, as well as with other systems on the network. It allows healthcare providers to exchange information accurately, thus reducing the chance for errors and saving time and money.
An EHR must be interoperable to meet the Meaningful Use requirements. Lab interoperability allows you to electronically receive lab results in a structured format and display them in a more readable format. ePrescribing interoperability is what allows you to send electronic prescriptions to a pharmacy, verify prescription drug insurance eligibility, receive tiered formulary coverage information and perform medication reconciliation.
Care360 is a complete EHR for ambulatory physicians in private practices and outpatient medical facilities. It’s certified by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, an ONC-ATCB.
In addition to meeting these requirements, certified EHR systems must also include security functions such as user authentication and features that comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).