CMS picks EHR systems for next health IT test

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services picked EHR systems that will be used to qualify health care providers for incentives designed to build a national health information network.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services picked health IT workhorses McKesson and Meditech to supply electronic health record systems that will be used to test whether doctors and hospitals qualify for federal IT subsidies under the administration’s “meaningful use” program.

“Meaningful use” was designed to set up the building blocks of a national health information network by offering doctors and hospitals financial incentives to start the process of digitizing their practices and linking electronically to other providers.  

In the first stage of the program, providers were required to incorporate some of the basic functions of a health IT network, including using electronic prescribing as well as computerized provider order entry, an electronic system for ordering lab work and other services. 

Hospitals were also required to be able to provide patients an electronic copy of their health records. 

The McKesson and Meditech EHR systems figure in the next, more advanced set of meaningful use requirements. In meeting stage two requirements over the next two years, health care providers must put EHRs through their paces in clinical settings. 

Among the applications that clinics and health care practices will be required to demonstrate is the ability to conduct multiple electronic exchanges of a care document with a recipient using an EHR from a different vendor. Alternately, a provider must be able to exchange a health record with the CMS-designated test EHR from McKesson and Meditech.

CMS, together with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, chose the McKesson and Meditech systems as initial test EHRs , but is soliciting others “in the EHR technology developer community,” to also be a part of the test program, according to Healthcare IT News.

EHR vendors faced a tough set of challenges as the second stage requirements kicked in last fall, leading to a slow start, according to the report. That makes sense, considering that when compared to the first-stage meaningful use requirements, tech developers were “navigating a higher bar and increased complexity,” Alisa Ray, the executive director of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, was quoted as saying.

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