The Significance of an ONC-ACB Certified Electronic Health Record System

Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems have undoubtedly improved the management and administration of healthcare facilities everywhere. EHRs allow healthcare providers to better organize patients’ treatment and records, minimizes paperwork, and simplifies the workflow of the healthcare program.

However, increasing demand for EHRs has led to the proliferation of companies selling systems without any proof of quality. Taking advantage of the boom, these so-called EHR providers pitch their products to healthcare facilities as completely safe, reliable, and able to meet provider needs both now and in the future. These EHRs lack ONC-ACB Health IT Certification. Understanding what this important certification is and its significance to your agency’s functioning is critical when deciding on the electronic healthcare record for your business.

What is the ONC-ACB Health IT Certification Program?

To start, electronic healthcare record certification is administered through the Health IT Certification Program, operated by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The ONC is within the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and was established through executive order in 2004 and legislatively mandated in 2009 through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). The ONC partners with several organizations in imposing strict requirements to ensure an EHR system is fully functional, has safeguards against privacy and security concerns, and does not pose a threat to public health and safety.

At this time, application to become certified is voluntary. The certification process involves multiple functionality demonstrations, attestations regarding system integrity and security, and thorough documentation regarding system design and testing. EHR system providers that pass the requirements are awarded a health IT certification by an ONC-Authorized Certification Body (ONC-ACB). To keep the certification, an EHR system provider must ensure that its product continuously maintain the standards required under the program and must submit regular reports to their certification body. The certification process is labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive for electronic healthcare record providers- which is why many choose not to do it. This is also why those who successfully pass are considered to be among the best electronic healthcare records.

Benefits of ONC-ACB Certification

An EHR system with an ONC-ACB certification benefits both health facilities and the public alike.

For behavioral healthcare providers, use of an ONC-ACB certified EHR system ensures your product meets government-prescribed, normalized and validated industry standards. Use of the record will also improve efficient management of your agency, as demonstrable efficiency improvements are part of the certification process. Cost transparency is part of the certification process, so providers are assured of “no hidden fees” or other charges when signing with a vendor. Use of an ONC-ACB certified EHR also allows providers access to current and future federal funding initiatives whose access is predicated on their adoption.

For the public, the clients served by a behavioral healthcare provider, ONC-ACB Certification is equally desirable. Most important is the guarantee that their data is secured safely, meeting numerous federal guidelines and regulations. They also know their data can be transferred to a new provider or clinician should provider be using an ONC-ACB certified system. Their care management can also be more efficiently and effectively managed, as a certified system has interoperability requirements to allow electronic data transmission between providers to improve the quality of care.

Risks of Getting an EHR System without an ONC-ACB Certification

Behavioral healthcare programs face a myriad of risks should they choose to get an EHR system without ONC-ACB certification. First, the risk to their patient data is enormous- there is no authority or oversight body ensuring the data is stored properly and securely, both from hackers and natural disasters. Penalties for unlawful disclosure can be substantial, and that does not include lawsuits from the clients themselves. Second, while many providers cite cost as a reason for not using an ONC-ACB certified system, the reality is the savings that will come from increased efficiencies and improved capacities far outweigh the upfront charges. Using a system without ONC-ACB certification can cost far more in the long-term from lost revenue opportunities, data transmission problems, hidden fees, and security breaches. Finally, while an electronic record without certification can claim to help lessen staffs’ workload, only ONC-ACB certified systems have proven their use will result in fewer patient errors and less administrative work, leading to better- and verifiable- patient care outcomes.

Bottom Line: Get an ONC-ACB Certified EHR System

ONC-ACB Certification is the gold standard seal of quality for electronic healthcare records. Your clients will know you care enough for them to invest in a quality program to protect and manage their care. You can rest knowing your data is safe and your agency has made a wise investment in its future.

References:

https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/PUBLICHealthITCertificationProgramOverview_v1.1.pdf

https://www.healthit.gov/topic/certification-ehrs/about-onc-health-it-certification-program

https://chpl.healthit.gov/?fbclid=IwAR2BoeUzlMjUxwSDS00lQ9fHKFtTwlKJ3YLBZ8lM6UaSorNlg1Tg7VczyPc#/product/9268

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