In early January, CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt announced that Meaningful Use would be replaced and the focus of the Medicare reimbursement program would be redirected to patient outcomes, catching the healthcare industry by surprise. Several sources noted that this would be a complete end to Meaningful Use, but additional information has been released helping to bring clarity to how physicians and patients will be best supported by technology like the EHR. In brief, Meaningful Use has not ended.
Practices have spent millions of dollars integrating EHRs into daily patient care. CMS created incentive programs encouraging physicians to use the technology and subsequently rewarding their management tasks, but not patient outcomes. For example, the implementation of a practice security plan for patient information was one measurement that did not necessarily lead to improved patient outcomes.
CMS announced they worked with patients and physicians to hear their concerns and will begin to redirect their reimbursement programs to focus on the care of patients. With the Congressional approval of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), Medicare reimbursement will concentrate on quality, cost and clinical practice improvements.
Until the new reimbursement regulations are developed, Meaningful Use will continue to be measured with existing objectives. Those proposed regulations should be ready for comments sometime this spring.
CMS has noted that the proposed regulations will be based on four “critical principles” released in a statement.
- Rewarding providers for the outcomes technology helps them achieve with their patients.
- Allowing providers the flexibility to customize health information technology to their individual practice needs. Technology must be user-centered and support physicians.
- Leveling the technology playing field to promote innovation, including start-ups and new entrants, by unlocking electronic health information through open APIs-technology tools that underpin many consumer applications. This way, new apps, analytic tools and plug-ins can be easily connected to so that data can be securely accessed and directed where and when it is needed in order to support patient care.
- Prioritizing interoperability by implementing federally recognized, national interoperability standards and focusing on realworld uses of technology, like ensuring continuity of care during referrals or finding ways for patients to engage in their own care. CMS will not tolerate business models that prevent or inhibit the data from flowing around the needs of the patient.
What does this mean for my practice?
Meaningful Use will continue to be measured under the existing standards, so no changes are required at this time. Continue with measurements as you have in the past year, and make sure to attest by Feb. 29.
Can I still get an exception for hardship? If so, what does that require?
Yes, hardships can be filed for 2015.
Must be filed by March 15, 2016
As CMS releases information and develops regulations, IntrinsiQ Specialty Solutions will work with our physicians and practices to ensure a seamless transition to new measurements.
The deadline has been extended to March 11th.
To learn more about IntrinsiQ Specialty Solutions, click here