AHA urges more robust IT testing, certification processes

In a letter to Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT and HHS' acting assistant secretary for health, the American Hospital Association pressed the agency to increase the transparency of certified health IT surveillance results and to strengthen the certification criteria and testing of health IT.

The letter, signed by AHA Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy Thomas Nickels, is in response to the ONC's proposal to modify the Health IT Certification Program, which was released in early March.

The AHA said it supports the ONC's proposal to increase transparency of surveillance results and recommends the agency prioritizes actions to increase confidence in health IT certification criteria and testing.

The ONC's proposal seeks to increase transparency requirements by publishing surveillance results each quarter, a motion the AHA supports, saying it will help facilitate access to information and better inform providers to the actual performance of certified health IT.

In addition, the AHA suggests ONC include information on its website detailing how certified health IT products support interoperability. "Visible, comparative information will give vendors an opportunity to understand where performance can be improved in support of provider needs to exchange health information," according to the letter. "Transparency and communication about certified health IT through one known point of information will support the education of all stakeholders working to achieve widespread interoperability."

The AHA also is pressing ONC to enhance certification criteria and health IT testing to ensure products meet provider requirements under Medicare incentive programs, which it says is not always the case currently.

To mitigate this, the AHA suggests ONC work with the National Institute for Standards and Technology to establish conformance testing infrastructure, as well as establish a process to providers can offer feedback on certified health IT.

Finally, the AHA proposes the ONC work with existing private-public initiatives to develop a framework to identify health IT safety incidents that may pose a risk to public health or safety. "The direct engagement by ONC in the review of certified health IT presumes a level of maturity in a taxonomy for health IT safety that is not yet realized," reads the letter.

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