Potential 2015 Edition EHR Certification Logjam

Posted on March 23, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

If you’ve read these blogs for any amount of time, you know how I feel about EHR certification (Not a fan!). I think EHR certification has wasted a lot of EHR programming cycles and in many ways killed EHR innovation that would have occurred without it. That said, EHR certification is still a cost of doing business given the current regulations.

My friend Jim Tate from EMR Advocate described it even better:

Certification has become embedded in the evolving field of healthcare technology. Whether it is MACRA/MIPS, recognition of Medical Home status, or the requirements of a Request for Proposal (RFP), there is an ongoing need for vendors to achieve and maintain certification of their products. The ONC certification system may contain some flaws, but it is the cost of doing business in this domain. If a vendor does not achieve ONC Certification their business model is at great risk.

Jim and I have had many conversations about EHR certification. While we might disagree on the value of EHR certification (or lack therof), we both agree that EHR certification is embedded in the EHR market and every EHR vendor has to do it (Yes, I know about DPC and a few other elective practices that don’t have to worry about it). Do I see it going away? Not in the near future, so we just have to grin and bear for now.

That said, Jim Tate also made a really strong prediction about what EHR vendors can expect in the 2nd half of 2018 in regards to EHR certification. Let’s just say that a number of EHR vendors aren’t likely to be grinning if they’ve put off 2018 Edition EHR certification. Here’s how Jim describes it:

ONC has rolled out three editions of CEHRT. The first, the 2011 Edition, has long gone into the history books. The 2014 Edition can still be used throughout 2018. 2019 is altogether another story. Originally 2018 was the year that vendors had to roll out their certified 2015 software editions. A one-year grace period was thrown into the mix and vendors were given an extra year to achieve the 2015 Edition certification and roll out their products to providers. With only 9 months left to accomplish that task, they may be running out of time.

The Certified Health IT Products List (CHPL) maintains the ledger of all active and withdrawn certifications. There is some fascinating data there to review. There are over 4000 entries for active 2014 Edition Certification. For the 2015 Edition there are less than 300 active certifications. Now I admit there is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison here. For 2014 many vendors active certification is shown for different versions of the same product. Nonetheless it is apparent to me that many vendors have yet to achieve certification even with a deadline staring them in the face.

If that’s not a definition of a logjam, then I don’t know what is. Plus, Jim notes that there’s been some contraction of the EHR certification bodies as well. There just aren’t as many out there to get your EHR product certified. Jim would know since he’s helped over 300 health IT systems get certified. Do you see the problem that’s coming?

What can you do?
The first thing you can do is to go to the Certified Health IT Products List (CHPL) and see if your EHR vendor is 2015 Certified. If it’s not, then you may want to ask your EHR vendor what their plan is to become certified. Knowing the answer to that question will be important to your organization. If it’s not 2015 Certified, then you’ll have issues with MACRA and MIPS in 2019.

Thanks Jim Tate for always staying on top of this stuff and being the wise words of warning about impending issues.