Federally funded payments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) are available for qualifying health care providers under either Medicare or Medicaid programs. All (Medicare) or the majority (Medicaid) of payments under either plan require “meaningful use” of an EMR system accredited by a proper electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) certification authority as established by the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provides HHS with the authority to establish programs to improve health care quality, safety, and efficiency through the promotion of health information technology, including EHR / EMRs.
As of January, 2012, EHR / EMR certification authorities, or Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ATCBs) are qualifying under a “temporary” certification program established in June, 2010. The temporary certification program is administered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). These temporary ONC certification will stay in effect until the final EMR is established, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2012.
An organization wishing to become an EMR certification authority under the temporary EMR certification program must submit an application to the ONC to demonstrate its ability to test and certify EMRs and/or EMR Modules. As of January, 20121, there are six such ONC – ATCBs, and they charge EMR vendors for EMR certification and testing.