[EHR Incentive Programs] Must providers have their electronic health record (EHR) technology certified prior to beginning the EHR reporting period in order to demonstrate Meaningful Use under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs?
No. An EP or hospital may begin the EHR reporting period for demonstrating Meaningful Use before their EHR technology is certified. Certification need only be obtained prior to the end of the EHR reporting period. However, Meaningful Use must be completed using the capabilities and standards outlined in the ONC Standards and Certification Regulation for certified EHR technology. Any changes to the EHR technology after the beginning of the EHR reporting period that are made in order to get the EHR technology certified would be evidence that the provider was not using the capabilities and standards necessary to accomplish Meaningful Use because those capabilities and standards would not have been available, and thus, any such change (no matter how minimal) would disqualify the provider from being a meaningful EHR user. If providers begin the EHR reporting period prior to certification of their EHR technology, they are taking the risk that their EHR technology will not require any changes for certification. Any changes made to gain certification must be done prior to the beginning of the EHR reporting period during which Meaningful Use will be demonstrated. This does not apply to changes made to EHR technology that were not necessary for certification.