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by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: January 21, 2017


What is an ONC-ATCB Certified EHR Software?

In 2010, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) selected six organizations to test and certify electronic health records (EHR) software, which are also known as electronic medical records (EMR) software. Dubbed ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies, or ONC-ATCBs, these six companies determine which EHRs meet criteria to support "meaningful use" (established by the Secretary of Health and Human Services).

An ONC-ATCB certified software assures users that the EHR software system comprises the technological capabilities, functionalities and security requirements that meet the criteria of meaningful use. The certification also ensures the provision of a compatible and structured format for patient data that can be retrieved from and transferred to other EHR systems.

More than 500 products for ambulatory practices and 275 products for inpatient practices have received ONC-ATCB certification. In addition, they meet EHR meaningful use/EMR meaningful use requirements. These numbers will continue to rise over the next few years as more medical software vendors apply for this certification.

Compare ONC-ATCB Certified EHR Software

Below is a breakdown of the six ONC-ATCBs, along with brief descriptions of each company: where they're located, when they were authorized and what types of EHRs they certify.

CCHIT The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology is based in Chicago, Illinois. It was authorized as an ONC-ATCB on September 3, 2010. However, as of January 29, 2014, it has stopped certifying new EHR systems though ast certifications will still be honored. CCHIT certifications include both complete EHR systems and modules.
Drummond Group Based in Austin, Texas, it was also authorized on September 3, 2010 and provides certifications to complete EHR systems and modules.
ICSA Labs Based in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, it was authorized on December 10, 2010. It certifies complete EHR systems and modules.
InfoGard InfoGard Laboratories is located in San Luis Obispo, California. It was authorized on September 24, 2010. It also certifies complete EHR systems and modules.
SLI Global Solutions Based in Denver, Colorado, it was also authorized on December 10, 2010. It also certifies complete EHR systems and EHR modules.
Surescripts Surescripts is based in Arlington, Virginia. It was authorized on December 23, 2010. Its scope of authorization includes EHR modules, e-Prescribing, privacy and security.

It’s important for providers to understand that a single, certified product may not make them eligible for incentive payments under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. A product can be either a complete EHR or an EHR module.

For example, a software company could get certification for an e-Prescribing tool. This is an important distinction. Providers must implement two or more modular EHRs that, when combined, meet 100 percent of the ONC EHR criteria (or at least a complete meaningful use EHR/meaningful use EMR system). Here are four key questions that providers should ask during their EHR comparison and while evaluating ONC-ATCB certified vendors:

  • Which certification has the vendor received? CCHIT, KLAS or ONC-ATCB? Providers must use an ONC-certified EHR/ONC-certified EMR system to receive the Stimulus incentives.
  • Which version of the software has been certified? Providers need to make sure the version they own or purchase has ONC-ATCB certification.
  • Has the vendor received certification for a complete or modular EHR? As noted above, providers must implement two or more modular EHRs that meet 100 percent of ONC criteria.
  • Has the product been renamed by a reseller or other business partner? Providers need to make sure the renamed version has been approved, even if the original product received certification.

Updates on Meaningful Use and Certification Requirements

On February 24, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released their proposal for “stage 2” of the EHR meaningful use criteria. There are three major requirements or outcomes of stage 2:

  • The standardization of data formats so that EHRs are interoperable.
  • The ability for patients to access and download their health records.
  • An expanded set of quality metrics that will include specialists and that will help to demonstrate outcomes, such as coordination of care.

When the rules were released in 2012, eligible providers (EPs) didn’t need to demonstrate meaningful use of EHR software until 2014 (at least for the stage 2 requirements). There are 20 functional metrics and 12 clinical quality measures that providers will need to track. The entire proposal is available on the Federal Register website.

Market Trends to Understand

These are the key market trends which should be considered by a user while choosing an EHR provider:

Web-based EHR software trumps on-premise solutions: Users are increasingly preferring web-based (i.e., hosted online or in the cloud) EHR software over on-premise solutions (i.e., hosted locally). Web-based software enables the practitioner to access patient data and other medical records, including billing and scheduling information from anywhere and on any device. These solutions mostly offer subscription-based services instead of requiring a one-time investment. This helps management save up on direct costs that they’d incurred on on-premise systems as web-based systems require only monthly payments.

EHR buyers prefer integration: According to a survey in our EHR Software Buyer Report – 2014, the majority of buyers prefer EHR software over a standalone software as they’re able to integrate EHR software with medical billing and scheduling applications. This integration ensures that all the information is consolidated in one place and users can get an holistic view of data. In addition, users are able to generate more efficient reports after data integration. This measure helps them make strategic decisions.

Mobile device support is growing: The medical industry has seen a rise in the use of portable devices, such as iPhones, iPads as well as Android phones and tablets, to monitor and access patient information. This trend has increased the demand of mobile support for EHR software. It allows medical practitioners to send appointment reminders to patients on their mobile devices. This increases a clinic’s overall efficiency as it results in the maximum patient turnaround.

How to Check Whether Your Selected Software Vendor is ONC-ATCB Certified

Users can get the comprehensive report of all certified Health Modules that have been tested and certified by ONC Health IT Certification Program in the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL).

For more information on CHPL, refer to this User Guide.

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