Test Methods for Health Information Technology

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 emphasizes the need for the U.S. to move toward the use of electronic health records. To encourage a more widespread adoption of interoperable health information technology, the legislation calls for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT, in consultation with NIST, to recognize a program for the voluntary certification of health information technology as being in compliance with applicable certification criteria to meet defined meaningful use requirements. In collaboration with ONC, NIST is developing the necessary functional and conformance testing requirements, test cases, and test tools in support of the health IT certification program.


Understanding Meaningful Use with a Focus on Testing the HL7 V2 Messaging Standards (Paper)


Developing the Test Methods

In support of the health IT certification program, NIST developed the conformance test methods (test procedures, test data, and test tools) to ensure compliance with the meaningful use technical requirements and standards.

To develop the test method, NIST conducted an analysis of the HHS/ONC Interim Final Rule (IFR) published in the Federal Register including:

  • the functional and interoperable requirements
  • the referenced standards
  • the test procedures which could be used to validate conformance with the derived test requirements
  • the assumptions which may influence the selection of a specific test method or the scope of testing
Figure - Meaningful Use Testing

NIST released draft test procedures on an incremental basis based on the IFR . The draft test procedures did not take into account considerations from the ONC public comment process. During the rollout of the draft test procedures, NIST received public feedback. This information was compiled and used in updating the test procedures.