Meaningful Use Stage 1: Certification is Just the First Step

Yesterday, CCHIT launched their ONC-mandated test and certification program and delivered a one-hour webcast on their process. Slides and a recording are available on the CCHIT site.

One thing is clear. Certification is just the first step. Certification means that the EHR system or module meets NIST testing criteria for functionality and security related to Stage 1 Meaningful Use measures. But implementation and related integration issues still loom in the background.

At least three objectives in the core and menu sets require some form of data exchange between an EHR and another system:

  • reporting clinical quality measures to CMS or a state agency
  • incorporating clinical lab-test results into certified EHR technology as structured data
  • submitting electronic data to immunization registries or immunization information systems

The NIST test scripts cover the ability of EHRs to send and receive data. The scripts aren’t meant to cover the system on the other end. While the Meaningful Use documentation specifies standards, systems aren’t automatically set up to exchange data. Even if all systems in this exchange are on the same HL7 version, we’re still going to see different interpretations of the standard.

Multiple interface analysts are going to be faced with the monumental task of assessing and bridging these gaps. In other words, even if a system is certified, no one is talking plug and play. Providers and vendors still face a significant implementation hurdle related to interoperability.

Are you involved with EHR implementation? How are you and your customers dealing with interoperability issues? Please let us know in the comments.