This week health care organizations were startled and not a little concerned to learn of the ONC's unprecedented action with regards to a California health software company. The agency is decertifying electronic health records systems which initially met ONC requirements for certification.
Via Modern Healthcare:
For the first time, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS has revoked certifications for two electronic health-record systems, raising troubling questions about how physicians and hospitals should react if the government nixes a system they're already using.
Federal officials require that doctors and hospitals use certified EHR systems in order to receive federal money to defray the cost of converting to EHRs. But on Thursday, the ONC said it decided to revoke certifications for two products on the market after anonymous complaints were lodged about the systems.
EHRMagic, of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., had two of its records systems shot down by the government: EHRMagic-Ambulatory and EHRMagic-Inpatient. Two people familiar with the company interviewed for this story said they were not surprised by the development, since the firm didn't seem able to live up to its promises on the sales side of the operation several years ago.
Calls and e-mails to EHRMagic on Thursday were not returned. Records with the California secretary of state list the 4-year-old company's corporate status as “suspended.”
ONC spokesman Peter Ashkenaz said no healthcare provider has “attested” to using the system, which means that no one had tried to receive federal funding to pay for installation of an EHRMagic system. Since 2011, more than 234,000 organizations and individuals have received a total of $12.7 billion in EHR incentives to install one of the 1,700 systems eligible for payments.
But a blog post Thursday from Carol Bean, director of the certification office at the ONC, makes clear that the office will continue aggressive monitoring for other EHR systems that don't meet the federal requirements. That includes proactive investigations and surveillance by the office, as well as inquiries that stem from tips from the public about shoddy systems.
“We want to be clear,” the blog post says, “the office of certification's role doesn't stop after EHR certification. We are also going to monitor certified EHRs to determine whether they continue to meet our requirements. The doctors, hospitals and other providers that are adopting—and have already adopted—EHRs deserve this and should feel confident that the tools they are using are up to the job of helping their patients get the best care possible.”
Ashkenaz declined to say what a healthcare provider should do if the system it is using ends up retroactively decertified for payments, as EHRMagic's systems were.
Richard Gant, CEO of physician-supply seller Innovative Healthcare Systems in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., said the EHRMagic situation pointed to another major concern about decertification. EHRMagic sells what is known as a “cloud-based” system, meaning that patient information is stored off-site and not physically in a provider's office.
“The biggest issue is, all of your information is on their servers,” he said. “And if they disappear, that information could go away.”
Several years ago, Gant's firm attempted to sell EHRMagic's systems through a sales model that would have allowed it to be installed for free in exchange for eventual federal subsidies. But he said Innovative Healthcare Systems severed its relationship with the EHRMagic after several initial attempts to install it failed, and sales payments were not forthcoming.
“When they weren't paying for anything and they weren't supporting clients of ours, we said goodbye,” Gant said. “I'm surprised they were even around to even be decertified.”
By Joe Carlson
“ONC revokes firm's EHR certifications,” Modern Healthcare (April 25, 2013)