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ONC Updated Feedback Form Upholds Health IT Certification Integrity

An ONC update eases the process of submitting feedback to encourage providers to communicate concerns about technologies with health IT certification.

ONC Certified Health IT

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- ONC is allowing providers to more easily submit feedback, concerns, and complaints regarding clinical quality measures and health IT products in an effort to uphold the integrity of ONC health IT certification.

The newly updated ONC health IT feedback form encourages providers to submit commentary to the federal agency electronically through a single tool on the ONC website.

The federal agency accepts feedback about clinical quality measures but encourages providers to first contact the health IT developers or companies of potentially problematic ONC certified technology.

“If the developer/vendor is unable to resolve the issue and you think the issue relates to the product’s certified capabilities, then contact the appropriate ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs) which should be able to work with you and the developer to resolve most issues,” stated ONC. “If you have contacted the vendor or developer as well as the ONC-ACB and still have outstanding issues, please use this form to submit your issue.”

ONC added providers should not use the form to address potential security concerns with EHR systems or health IT product offerings.

“If you believe that a HIPAA covered entity or business associate violated your (or someone else’s) health information privacy rights or committed another violation of the HIPAA Privacy, Security or Breach Notification Rules, please file your complaint directly with The HHS Office for Civil Rights,” the federal agency clarified.

The updated form now accepts a variety of types of feedback through a single tool and includes more categories open for commentary.

Respondents are permitted to remain anonymous when submitting comments.

“Depending on the nature of your feedback, we may contact you for additional information and, in some instances, may share the information you provide with other appropriate federal and state government agencies, officials, and authorities,” stated ONC. “Please note that while we will endeavor to keep the information you share with us confidential, federal or state laws, may require us to disclose certain information in some circumstances.”

While health IT providers should not expect a direct response from the agency, submitted comments will be used to inform future discussions and decisions surrounding health IT-related issues in the future.

“While legal and administrative constraints prevent us from responding to feedback, all information submitted through this form is carefully reviewed and shared with appropriate ONC officials,” stated ONC. “Your feedback is appreciated and helps us to improve our awareness and ability to address health IT-related issues and challenges.”

This effort from ONC to simplify feedback submission concerning ONC certified health IT products could be a push to buffer provider skepticism about the legitimacy of EHR certifications.

EHR certifications have recently come under suspicion following the $155 million eClinicalWorks settlement.

eClinicalWorks paid the settlement to resolved allegations that it had misled consumers regarding the certification of its EHR technology and paid some customers kickbacks in exchange for positive promotion of its product offerings.

The settlement has led to a general distrust of all EHR companies among providers.

A recent study found over one-third of surveyed providers became more suspicious of all EHR vendors as a direct result of the eClinicalWorks EHR certification lawsuit.

“Now I wonder about our EHR,” commented one anonymous provider. “They have been certified but it does not seem to meet the requirements for stage 2 nor can I ever meet with anyone to get the program changed to make it more compliant.”

In another recent health IT lawsuit, Rush University Medical Center sued a health IT developer for over $18 million after its patient monitoring system allegedly proved defective.

Rush accused Draeger Inc. of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud over the Infinity Acute Monitoring Solution the medical center had spent four years and millions of dollars implementing.

Rush alleged the technology “was marked by inaccurate and unreliable alarming, erratic shifts in alarm settings, and sudden erasures of patient log data.”

A simpler open line of communication between providers and ONC could help the agency begin to rebuild trust among health IT users regarding the reliability of EHR certifications and ONC’s interest in maintaining the technologies’ integrity. 

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