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ONC launches complaint process for EHRs

September 17, 2015
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has added one more layer of action for long-term care facilities that are fed up with poor health IT performance. The agency has launched a new complaint form process to allow users to submit problems with certified health IT products, including electronic health records (EHRs).

The ONC doesn’t intend for its complaint form to be the first point of action, however. “If you have a problem with your health IT, you should start by contacting the developer or vendor,” instructs Acting Deputy National Coordinator Jon White, MD, on ONC’s web site. “If that doesn’t work and you think the issue relates to the product’s certified capability, then you should contact the ONC-Authorized Certification Body (ACB), which should be able to work with you and the developer to resolve most issues. But if the issue remains unresolved, please submit your issues to ONC.”

The ONC complain form also should be used if a provider cannot send or receive information or if information blocking may be at play, White continues.

The ONC news comes on the heels of a separate study that found many ONC-certified EHR systems are not necessarily meeting the certification requirements. The study, conducted by MedStar Health's National Center for Human Factors, Washington, D.C., analyzed 50 EHR systems that had received certification in 2014. More than one-third of those systems did not meet the requirements for usability and workflow design, requirements that are intended to be the central core of IT systems used by clinicians, according to the study results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In addition, many of the vendors are failing to conduct the required usability tests for the eight core usability criteria—CPOE, drug and allergy interaction checks, medication lists, medication allergy lists, clinical decision support, electronic medication administration records (eMARs) and reconciliation between CPOE and clinical records.

"The lack of adherence to usability testing may be a major factor contributing to the poor usability experienced by clinicians," wrote Raj M. Ratwani, PhD, lead author on the study. "Enforcement of existing standards, specific usability guidelines, and greater scrutiny of vendor UCD [user-centric design] processes may be necessary to achieve the functional and safety goals for the next generation of EHRs."

To learn more about ONC’s complaint submission process, visit