Answers to Five of The More Common Questions We Hear About ONC Health IT Certification

Answers to Five of The More Common Questions We Hear About ONC Health IT Certification

The healthcare industry is facing many technological challenges with the enactment of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the adoption of electronic documentation of health information. The widespread demand for products, evolving standards and the critical need to improve our health care system, triggered the need for a concerted, multi-faceted effort to support technology advancement at the provider level. I’d like to introduce you to the Office of National Coordinator (ONC) Health IT Certification Program.

Why is ONC Health IT Certification Important?

Certified technology assures consumers that the product meets the standards and criterion set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At an industry-level, it supports the advancement of our system to one of transparency that empowers consumers to make informed-decisions while increasing vendor competition and innovation. At a purchaser-level, providers and systems can be confident in selecting certified products that will support their needs by demonstrating functionality that is aligned to legal, regulatory and value-based payment requirements.

What are the Benefits of Using a “Certified Health IT” Product?

Certified Health IT aligns to the 2015 Edition Framework, a set of standards that creates the infrastructure for a connected, effective health care system. Accordingly, Certified Health IT products meet the Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) definitions of various programs (like prominent CMS Medicare and Medicaid payment incentive programs) that have built-in technology requirements, making it an “easy” button for providers to meet requirements and set up for payment incentives. Beyond helping you meet minimum requirements, a Certified Health IT product helps you to know that the product has a user-friendly design and will support the nuances of health care service delivery.

How Can a Non-EHR Product Achieve Certification?

As technology solutions in health care encompass more than just EHRs, ONC recognized the growing importance for all types of systems and products to be aligned to these standards to enable true interoperability. Fairly recently the Health IT Certification program expanded the eligibility definition.

How Does This Help Me Compare Products?

The Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology provides oversight of health information technology for the betterment of health care institutions. As the 2015 Edition Framework provides established standards for a full range of potential technology and functions, it allows you to make an apples-to-apples comparison of products to understand capabilities, limitations, functional trade-offs and costs.

Can You Give Me an Example of How KPI Ninja Met a Certification Criterion?

Each certification criterion is defined by a specific set of functions. For example, 170.315(c)(3) Clinical Quality Measures – Report, specifies that the product must allow a user to create standard file formats electronically. KPI Ninja had to demonstrate the ability to import clinical data and format to the CMS QRDA I and III file formats any time the user chooses and without additional assistance to operate.


2015 Edition Health Information Technology (Health IT) Certification Criteria, 2015 Edition Base Electronic Health Record (EHR) Definition, and ONC Health IT Certification Program Modifications. Federal Register 80:62601 (October 2015). Retrieved from

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. (March 2019). Health IT Certification Program Overview. Retrieved from

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. (April 2016). Report to Congress: Report on the Feasibility of Mechanisms to Assist Providers in Comparing and Selecting Certified EHR Technology Products. Retrieved from

Renee Towne

About the Author
Renee Towne
VP of Population Health at KPI Ninja, Inc.
Renee provides operational leadership of quality initiatives at KPI Ninja. Towne has a background in occupational therapy, education and experience in operational excellence across a variety of healthcare domains. Based on prior experience as a clinician that drove outcomes patient by patient, she is leaving a larger footprint by improving health care more comprehensively, population by population.

About KPI Ninja
KPI Ninja is a data analytics company that helps healthcare organizations accelerate their quality, safety, and financial goals with a unique combination of software and service. We are differentiated by our signature mix of technology, performance management consulting and healthcare expertise. We don’t merely offer software solutions but work shoulder to shoulder with clients to help them draw on the power of analytics and continuous improvement methodologies to become more efficient. In harmony with our data-centered ethos, we truly believe that our success is strongly co-related with yours.

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