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An increasing number of healthcare industry collectives are writing to the ONC with recommendations regarding revisions to the notice of proposed rulemaking on the health IT certification program.

The AHA and the AMIA have written letters to the ONC urging a boost in transparency of certification review results, and to constrict specifications for direct intervention by the ONC in the event of non-conformity. ONC is asking for feedback from stakeholders, regarding its proposed rule for furthering the agency’s role in surveying of health IT and EHR systems. This would also include the direct review of developers, the implementation of suspension plans as well as corrective action plans, and most vitally, the termination of certificates.

This letter has the AHA expressing general support for how the ONC has supported increase in transparency of surveillance results. But AHA has also suggested the agency collaborate more closely with industry groups and federal authorities to further boost transparency.

Executive Vice President Thomas P. Nickels wrote, “In order to revise the health IT certification program to accomplish this goal, the AHA supports the ONC’s proposal for increased transparency of surveillance results,” including a recommendation to prioritize actions which will increase confidence in the certification criteria and testing of health IT. Also recommended was that ONC start supporting existing initiatives so as to put up an infrastructure, “identify health IT safety incidents to inform certification and surveillance.”

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The proposed rule requires the ONC to regularly publish the results of surveillance on its website. Recommendations by AHA included that the website add a section, which puts out the interoperability capabilities of specific health IT products. With the added functionality, vendors will be able to compare these products and then bring in improvements based on the needs of the provider.

ONC will also need to work with the NIST in order to devise a framework for conformance testing, like technical testing beds, the AHA letter said. According to the proposed rule, ONC will be able to assess health IT depending on how it conforms to the strategic goals outlined by the HITECH Act. For instance, providers need to increase HIE, secure patient data, and cut down on medical errors under EHR compliance reporting.

On top of this, AHA also suggested that the ONC tie in with CMS to start a process where healthcare providers would be able to give feedback on the progress of certified health IT.

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