Government will crack down on EHRs under final rule

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Electronic health records will face greater scrutiny under a final rule released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Friday.

The rule will give the ONC more oversight when it comes to reviewing health information technology products in order to boost the transparency and accountability of its Health IT Certification Program, the agency said.

In the past, private sector organizations have been used by the ONC to handle EHR-related issues and complaints. Under the new rule the ONC will conduct the reviews directly, checking for “potential risks to public health and safety” and terminating a product's certification if necessary.

The rule's termination provision has raised concerns among healthcare groups, Modern Healthcare reported, for its potential to cause “serious repercussions” for providers and patients by leaving them without access to information.

The ONC will be able to make testing results of certified health IT products available to the public, in order to give users “valuable information” about the products' performance.

“More transparency and accountability in health IT is good for consumers, physicians, and hospitals,” said Vindell Washington, M.D., ONC National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. “Today's final rule strengthens the program by ensuring that certified health IT helps clinicians and individuals use and exchange electronic health information safely and reliably.”