From Healthcare IT News August, 2015

EMR Vendors Uneasy When It Comes to Meaningful Use 3

Meaningful Use 3 is on it’s way. This past spring, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT announced the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria proposed rule, along with the proposed rule for Stage 3 of the EHR incentive program.

Vendors immediately began weeding their way through those hundreds of pages to prepare official comments and to understand the potential implications for product development.

According to ONC, the 2015 Edition seeks to “enable a more flexible certification program that supports developer innovation” and “incorporates changes to foster innovation, open new market opportunities, and provide more choices to the care community when it comes to electronic health information exchange.”

[See also: CMS makes meaningful use modifications]

Despite ONC’s lofty objectives, many EHR vendors are concerned that the scope of the proposed rule is too broad with too many requirements, including certain standards that have yet to be fully vetted by the industry. One consistent criticism is that the proposed rule includes a considerable number of criteria that are not specifically tied to the meaningful use program – nor to other HHS programs.

“In all previous rules, the ONC certification requirements were tied to a meaningful use objective,” explained Stephanie Zaremba, senior manager of government and regulatory affairs for athenahealth. “The rules have now been decoupled and about half of what is in the ONC rule are requirements for functionalities that are not necessary to succeed inmeaningful use.”

Joe Wall, supervisor of federal initiatives for MEDITECH, shared similar concerns: “We really wanted to see ONC focus on the meaningful use regulatory aspect,” said Wall. “The proposed certification rule included requirements that are not necessarily tied to any specific meaningful use objectives, but still place a burden on EHR vendors to develop, test, certify, and implement by the 2017 optional year.”

Other vendors, including Allscripts, concur that the breadth of requirements, given the proposed timeline, presents a challenge.

“We certainly understand the thinking behind a lot of the suggestions, but believe the scope of what ultimately was presented was really too significant, particularly within the scope of time they allowed for the work to be done,” said Leigh Burchell, vice president of policy and government affairs for Allscripts. “If we have to devote resources for all these requirements, we have to use resources that could be innovating elsewhere.”

It is, she says, “an industry-wide drain on innovation.”

Another area of concern is the inclusion of criteria based on new or immature standards which may have been conditionally piloted, but not fully tested and validated.


Michelle Ronan Noteboom – Contributing writer – Michelle Ronan Noteboom specializes in healthcare IT communications, marketing, and strategy. She spent seven years as an independent contributor for HIStalk and HIStalk Practice writing under the name “Inga” and as a freelance writer for various publications and health IT vendors.