On Wednesday, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT announced that it has decertified two electronic health record products for failing to comply with routine surveillance requests,Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review reports (Jayanthi, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review, 9/2).
As a result, the products Platinum Health Information System’s two versions of SkyCare 4.2 cannot be used to attest to the meaningful use program.
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 9/3).
Under the ONC Health IT Certification Program, all EHRs must be certified by an ONC-authorized testing and certification body before they can be used to attest to the meaningful use program (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 9/2).
According to FierceEMR, Platinum Health failed to respond to and participate in surveillance requests from InfoGard Laboratories, an ONC-ATCB. Therefore, ONC said the EHR products no longer meet certification requirements.
In a statement, National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo said, “We take our responsibility to provide appropriate oversight of certified EHR products seriously and have every expectation that users will have systems that meet the technological capabilities and requirements adopted by HHS and will take action accordingly.”
Forty-eight eligible professionals have attested to Stage 1 of the Medicare meaningful use program using SkyCare EHRs. They now will need to transition to different EHR products to continue participating in the program (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 9/2).
According to the announcement, those eligible professionals can apply for a hardship exemption “from the meaningful use payment adjustments under the Medicare EHR program as they transition to new certified EHR technology.”
Health IT Now Comments
In a release, Health IT Now praised ONC for “penalizing bad actors,” noting that it was “concerning that a vendor company would seek to thwart ONC oversight.”
The coalition also urged Congress to pass legislation that would bolster interoperability and “improve the tools available to ONC to punish vendors who thwart program goals and who intentionally block information.”
Specifically, Health IT Now recommended that Congress:
- Enact a hardship exemption for providers who use decertified products;
- Establish a hardship fund to assist providers who would need to spend significant resources to switch EHRs; and
- Make it easier for providers to access all data in their EHRs to help facilitate their transition to a new product.
According to Health IT Now, hardship exemptions are approved or denied based on the discretion of CMS. However, the coalition said CMS should be required to provide exemptions to all providers whose products lose their certification, noting that “providers should not be held responsible for the bad actions of vendor companies” (Health Data Management, 9/3).