ONC takes tentative steps to certify electronic health records for long-term care providers

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The government will press for action on a certification program for electronic health records used by long-term care providers, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently announced.

A certification program would assure LTC providers that an EHR product meets certain quality standards. It could also be a first step toward including nursing homes and other post-acute providers in government incentive programs that provide funding for this type of technology. Hospitals and physicians can receive these incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The certification announcement came during a conference call on a new health information exchanges strategy document. That document compiled public comments on the topic, many of which called for greater incentives to expand EHR use in long-term care.

National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari brought up the possibility of a voluntary certification program for long-term care EHRs on the conference call. “We're going to move ahead” by exploring the scope of such a program, Mostashari said.

In fact, the Health IT Policy Committee will be asked to explore “the potential and scope” of such a program, but “no final decisions have been made,” according to a clarification email the ONC sent Friday.   

Mostashari has announced he will step down from his ONC post in the fall.