More than 1000 EHR products have been certified by the Office of the National Coordinator as meeting 2014 CEHRT criteria, according to the official product list, representing a major jump from just a few months ago. Providers have been deeply worried about the slow pace of certification as the industry enters Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, but the quickened pace may bring some peace of mind to organizations unsure of whether or not they will have time to implement new software releases before their ideal reporting period begins.
The Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) now includes 1067 products certified for 2014, along with nearly 5000 products with 2011 certification, including complete EHR systems and EHR modules. In January, a survey of providers looking to continue participation in the Meaningful Use program found that the vast majority of organizations did not yet have EHR systems capable of meeting Stage 2 criteria. Only 13% of providers had their upgraded systems installed as vendors languished in the waiting line for certification.
“For the vendors, it is not like they are not trying,” said AHIMA Director of HIM Practice Excellence, Diana Warner, MS, RHIA, CHPS, FAHIMA. “I have talked to different vendors and people who work for them and they are scrambling as much as anybody else about this initiative. For the 2011 Edition Certification, there were over 1,700 ambulatory products and over 300 inpatient products that were Stage 1 Meaningful Use certified. But 2014 Edition Certification, there are maybe 75 ambulatory products and 17 inpatient products. That is a real challenge.”
As the pace of certification increases, the ONC has made a special effort to improve the program’s transparency. The 2014 Edition’s Final Rule includes language that mandates public accessibility of test results and price transparency on the part of vendors in order to make providers more aware of the products they’re purchasing. “This policy focuses on an EHR technology developer’s responsibility to notify EPs, EHs, and CAHs about additional types of costs (i.e., one-time, ongoing, or both) that may affect an EHR technology’s cost for the purposes of achieving MU,” said Steven Posnack, Director of the Federal Policy Division at the ONC. “We clarified, however, that this provision focused on the type(s) of cost(s) that needed to be disclosed, not the actual dollar amount.”
Providers who are unable to secure 2014 certified technology also have the option of claiming a hardship exemption, CMS has indicated, if the vendor is not able to clear the certification process in time for attestation. While “hardship exceptions will be granted only under specific circumstances and only if CMS determines that providers have demonstrated that those circumstances pose a significant barrier to their achieving meaningful use,” the agency has said, providers who are nervous about meeting Stage 2 requirements do have some options as the certification process continues on.