ONC must decertify closed-platform EHR systems, Congress demands

December 22, 2014

Congress urges the ONC to certify only products that “clearly meet current meaningful use program standards and that do not block health information exchange.”

For months, lawmakers have been calling out the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) for the lack of interoperability between healthcare technology systems. Now Congress is demanding that the agency begin taking away certification from any electronic health record (EHR) system operating on a closed platform.

MORE COVERAGE: The future of interoperability

In a report related to the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed in early December, Congress urges the ONC to certify only products that “clearly meet current meaningful use program standards and that do not block health information exchange.”

The report states that EHRs on the market that don’t have interoperability capabilities “frustrate congressional intent, devalue taxpayer investments in CEHRT (Certified EHR technology), and make CEHRT less valuable and more burdensome for eligible hospitals and eligible providers to use.”

In addition, Congress wants the ONC to provide a report on the “information blocking problem” within 90 days that will outline vendors, hospitals and providers that operate closed-platform EHR systems, as well as a plan on how to address the issue. Another report is expected to be submitted to the House and Senate within a year on the operational and financial challenges of interoperability.

ONC created a 10-year interoperability roadmap in October. The outline will not be released for public comment until January 2015, however, Congress wants quicker action.

A RAND Corp. report issued in June detailed that $24 billion worth of meaningful use funding has been issued to Epic, a closed-platform EHR vendor. Rep. Phil Gingrey, MD (R-GA), a former physician, led a charge in July to stop subsidizing systems that don’t lend themselves to interoperability.