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What is Certified EHR, and Why is it Important?

What is Certified EHR, and Why is it Important?
13 January 2017

In the beginning, there was memory and word of mouth. Then, there was ink and parchment. Then, there were computers. These were the various ways that patient data was saved. But, even as they evolved, they were not good enough to meet the requirements of today. 

certified ehr
              Certified EHR technology helps the medical practice to improve clinical outcomes through Meaningful Use

That is why we evolved again. The advent of electronic health records (EHR) systems was built on a foundation of improving patient care. Establishing infrastructures that support highly accurate patient data, closing gaps in communication between healthcare providers and securely storing records are all among the goals of a certified EHR system. To standardize this, certified EHR systems were conceived and built.

What is certified EHR? Why is Certified EHR Technology Necessary?

Certified EHR technology is simply a method of taking the ideas of improving patient outcomes, through technology forward, in a standardized, regulated fashion.

But what does this mean for providers and why should they care?

Not only does adopting a certified EHR system ensure that your records adhere to requirements for HIPAA and Meaningful Use through CMS and the ONC, but they also can qualify medical practices for federal incentive programs, which can greatly reduce the cost of EHR implementation.

Who Certifies EHR Technology?

The requirements for certified EHR technology are generated and regulated by the federal government. Both the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). as well as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), determine the regulatory requirements for certified EHR systems.

Overview of Requirements

In order to adhere to Medicare and Medicaid requirements (and to qualify for incentive programs), an EHR system must meet a set of requirements and then further, a medical practice or organization must put those features appropriately to use. Meaningful Use was broken down into three stages and while details on all the requirements for the three stages can be found here, below is a brief overview of requirements to demonstrate Meaningful Use.

  • Data capture and sharing

Stage 1 of Meaningful Use focuses on essentially capturing and tracking KPIs (key performance indicators) within a clinical setting. Coordinating care with this new information includes both in-office communication and communication with patients and their families.

  • Advance clinical processes

Stage 2, advance clinical processes, focuses on honing electronic processes such as e-prescriptions, online laboratory reports, electronic delivery of patient care summaries (such as after visit reports)  and a new focus on Health Information Exchange (HIE).

  • Improved outcomes

Finally, Stage 3 focuses on demonstrating improved health outcomes, decision making on high-priority conditions, patient portal access and utility, including access to laboratory results, provider communication and more.

Industry Impact

Naturally, one of the greatest sources of industry impact with regards to Meaningful Use is the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs. 

The incentive programs have increased the amount of participation in certified EHR systems incredibly and continue to do so towards a goal of universal adoption.

At ZH Healthcare, we are proud to offer certified EHR technology to our healthcare clients. Our experienced experts support our partners through navigating Meaningful Use attestation, HIPAA compliance and all other federal regulatory requirements.

If you’re actively looking for or just casually browsing for an EHR system that is able to meet the requirements mentioned in this article, as well as be able to be equipped with a slew of other features, we might be able to help. Explore our HITaaS (Health IT as a Service) system blueEHR to learn how compliance can help both your organization and your patients today.