BREAKING NEWS! CMS TO REBRAND MEANINGFUL USE PROGRAM WITH NEW EMPHASIS ON INTEROPERABILITY, BURDEN REDUCTION

April 26, 2018

In a rule released this week (April 24), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced its intention to overhaul the Meaningful Use program.

In a press release, the federal agency said that it will be proposing to re-name the Meaningful Use program to “Promoting Interoperability.” CMS said the goals of the new program will be to: make it more flexible and less burdensome; emphasize measures that require the exchange of health information between providers and patients, and incentivize providers to make it easier for patients to obtain their medical records electronically.

The Meaningful Use (Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs) program has been around since 2011 with the intent to encourage eligible providers to demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR (electronic health record) technology. Seven years later, with nearly all hospitals and most physician practices having implemented a certified EHR, CMS is proposing a shakeup of the initiative with a rethinking of priorities.

Broadly, the proposed rule issued this week proposes updates to Medicare payment policies and rates under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS). According to CMS, the policies in the IPPS and LTCH PPS proposed rule “would further advance the agency’s priority of creating a patient-driven healthcare system by achieving greater price transparency and interoperability—essential components of value-based care— while also significantly reducing the burden for hospitals so they can operate with better flexibility and patients have the information they need to become active healthcare consumers.”

The proposed policies begin implementing core pieces of the government-wide MyHealthEData initiative through several steps to strengthen interoperability or the sharing of healthcare data between providers, CMS officials stated.  “Today’s proposed rule demonstrates our commitment to patient access to high quality care while removing outdated and redundant regulations on providers. We envision a system that rewards value over volume and where patients reap the benefits through more choices and better health outcomes,” according to CMS.

As far as “Promoting Interoperability” mandates go, the proposed rule reaffirms the requirement for providers to use the 2015 Edition of certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) in 2019 as part of demonstrating meaningful use to qualify for incentive payments and avoid reductions to Medicare payments. CMS is also proposing that EHR reporting periods in 2019 and 2020 for new and returning participants would be a minimum of any continuous 90-day period within each of the calendar years 2019 and 2020.

What’s more, CMS is aiming to “remove unnecessary, redundant, and process-driven quality measures from a number of quality reporting and pay-for-performance programs.”  Additionally, CMS is proposing a variety of other changes to reduce the number of hours providers spend on paperwork.

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