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What does it mean to have a certified EHR?

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Electronic health record (EHR) systems must meet certain standards in order to be certified. The EHR must meet the functional and security requirements as well as meaningful use criteria as established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Independent physicians who participate in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) must meet the requirements of meaningful use, which came to be known as the EHR Incentive Program.

CMS states that it “is now renaming the EHR Incentive Programs to the Promoting Interoperability (PI) Programs to continue the agency’s focus on improving patients’ access to health information and reducing the time and cost required of providers to comply with the programs’ requirements.”

Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) is necessary “to avoid a Medicare payment adjustment or receive a Medicaid incentive payment,” according to CMS. CEHRT gives assurance to purchasers and other users that an EHR system or module offers the necessary technological capability, functionality, and security to help them meet the meaningful use criteria. Certification also helps health care providers and patients be confident that the electronic health IT products and systems they use are secure, can maintain data confidentially, and can work with other systems to share information.”

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) further explains that CEHRT supports:

  • Care Coordination:  Improving care coordination is a core strategy for improving quality of care for patients while reducing unnecessary costs that can arise when patients do not seamlessly transition between settings. Certified EHR technologies may support the interoperable exchange of critical health information so that providers can deliver informed, effective care regardless of setting.
  • Quality Measurement: Accurate, reliable quality measurement is crucial for clinicians seeking to understand and improve their performance on core measures used by APMs to inform payment. Certified health IT can help clinicians electronically record, calculate, and report quality measures, providing insights into care and reducing the burden associated with reporting on quality.
  • Improving Patient/Clinician Relationships: Patient engagement is an important objective for many APMs, which may reward participating clinicians based on measures of patient satisfaction. Certified health IT may offer tools for securely sharing health information with patients, delivering patient educational materials electronically, and engaging in secure messaging with patients.

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