Permanent EHR Certification Program

Looks like the people at HHS and ONC have been working hard. On Monday this week they published the Permanent EHR Certification Program Final rule. You can find the press release about the Permanent EHR Certification final rule on my new EMR News website (if you have other EMR news, please let me know).

You can download the full Permanent EHR Certification final rule here (Warning: PDF). Although, I must admit that I found the permanent certification fact sheet very interesting. Here’s my summary:
*Testing and certification is expected to begin under the permanent certification program on January 1, 2012 (with an exception if it’s not ready)
*NIST (through its NVLAP) will continue with accrediting organization to test EHR and to work with ONC to create test tools and procedures
*A new ONC-Approved Accreditor of ONC-AA will be chosen every 3 years
*All ONC-ATCB (those bodies certified under the temporary) must apply to be ONC-ATB (permanent certification bodies)
*ONC-ACB have to renew every 3 years
*Gap Certification will be available for future EHR certification criteria.

The most interesting part to me was that ONC will be selecting an ONC-AA (Approved Accreditor) through a competitive bid process. So, they’re going to accredit an accreditor to accredit the certifiers? I think you get the gist. I can see how ONC saves so much by only having to have to deal with one ONC-AA and not the 6 ONC-ATCB (that was in the sarcasm font if you couldn’t tell).

It does make sense to have a gap certification so that EMR vendors that are already certified don’t have to certify against all the criteria every time. I guess in theory changes an EHR vendor has made could have caused issues with their previous functions, but that’s pretty rare. Especially since their users will need it to be able to show meaningful use (which is why EHR certification has little meaning beyond it being required for EHR incentive money).

Whether you agree or disagree with EHR certification (I think you know where I stand), you have to give ONC credit for pushing out the EHR certification program so that there are plenty of certified EHR software out there to choose from. Looks like they’re well on their way to implementing the permanent EHR certification as well.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • “…selecting an ONC-AA (Approved Accreditor) through a competitive bid process”

    Surely they’re not selecting the Approved Accreditor based primarily upon what they’re willing to pay for the privilege are they?

  • Sounds like a pretty standard government bid process to me. A bunch of companies spend a bunch of money to try and get the contract. One of them gets it after some crazy bureaucratic process.

  • I’m a visually-oriented guy. I could sure use something like a PowerPoint slide showing the structure below ONC with notes indicating what the value added (and cost added) is at each layer. My head hurts.

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