Certification Programs & Policy

Certification and EHR Incentives


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) as they adopt certified EHRs and successfully achieve Meaningful Use (MU).

For information on how to register for the CMS EHR Incentive Program, as well as information on the attestation process and payments, visit the CMS EHR Incentive Programs.

The Role of ONC and CMS in the EHR Incentive Programs

Per the HITECH Act, ONC was charged with creating the EHR Certification Program. CMS oversees MU and provides incentive payments to EPs and EHs who meaningfully use Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT).

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology logo.


The ONC Certification Program oversees the certification process for EHR products. ONC oversees the Certification Bodies and Testing Laboratories who certify and test EHR products, as well as the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL), the authoritative, comprehensive listing of certified Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s). ONC continues to manage the CHPL in the ONC Health Information Technology (HIT) Certification Program (formerly known as the Permanent Certification Program).

CMS EHR Certification Identification Number: A number generated by the CHPL used for reporting to CMS for Meaningful Use attestation, used to represent a product or combination of products in the CHPL.

Standards & Certification Criteria

The standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria adopted by the Secretary established the minimum requirements that CEHRT must include to support the achievement of MU Stage 1 or Stage 2 by EPs and EHs under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

ONC HIT Certification Program

In the ONC HIT Certification Program, certification and testing activities are performed by separate entities. Testing is performed by Accredited Testing Laboratories (ATLs).  If the product meets the requirements, certification is conducted by ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs).

To become an ONC-ACB, certification bodies apply for accreditation by the ONC-Approved Accreditor (ONC-AA), ANSI, and then seek authorization from ONC. To become an ATL, testing laboratories will apply for accreditation by NVLAP.

Temporary Certification Program

In the TCP, ONC managed the ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ONC-ATCBs) and the CHPL. ONC reviewed all ONC-ATCB applications and authorized organizations to become ONC-ATCBs. With the sunset of the Temporary Certification Program on October 4, 2012, ONC-ATCBs have six months to complete testing and certification activities for products already in the testing pipeline.

Certification vs. Meaningful Use

Certification ensures that the EHR technology providers choose to adopt offers the necessary capabilities, functionalities, and security to help them achieve MU. Solely adopting certified EHR does not qualify an EP or EH to receive incentive payments. EPs and EHs must "Meaningfully Use" the certified EHR and successfully attest to demonstrating MU to qualify for an incentive payment through the EHR Incentive Programs administered by CMS.

Additional information on the CMS EHR Incentive Programs

An Overview of Certification vs. Meaningful Use

Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) first adopt certified EHR. Then, EPs and EHs Meaningfully Use certified EHR and successfully attest to demonstrating MU. Once an EP or EH successfully attests, they receive incentive payments from CMS.

MU sets specific objectives that EPs and EHs must achieve to qualify for the CMS' EHR Incentive Program.

Meaningful Use Attestation

Meaningful Use is sponsored by CMS; however, certain MU attestation requirements require actions with the ONC Certification Program. An EP or EH selects a Complete EHR or a combination of EHR Module(s) to create a complete certified EHR on the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL).

Each product selected by an EP or EH is linked to a "Certification Bar Summary" in the CHPL. The Certification Bar Summary will show as complete (highlighted in blue below) once the EHR product or combination of products meet all certification criteria. The Certification Bar Summary image below provides more information:

This screenshot depicts a complete Certification Bar Summary, which provides a summary of all the certification criteria that are met by items in your cart. Both General Criteria (170.302) and Inpatient Criteria (170.306) are shown as part of the Certification Bar Summary. Since the products in the cart depicted here meet 100 percent of the criteria, the user can click the

Once the bars are highlighted in blue (representing 100% completed criteria), the "Requesting Your CMS EHR Certification ID" section will appear on the right side of the screen as shown below.

Select the "Get CMS EHR Certification ID" button to generate the ID. The user will be directed to the CMS EHR Certification ID page, and a CMS EHR Certification ID number will be displayed. The CMS EHR Certification ID is needed to attest to MU.

Since the products in the cart depicted here meet 100 percent of the criteria, the user can click the