Just when providers have become accustomed to the technology and workflows necessary for navigating the Meaningful Use EHR incentive program and other required Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provider reporting, CMS announces change. In mid-January, Andy Slavitt, CMS administrator, announced what sounded like the demise of the Meaningful Use Incentive Program only to clarify his statement the following week in the January 19th CMS blog with his co-administrator, Karen DeSalvo. And just this week, Slavitt and DeSalvo commented on meaningful use and other government initiatives around data governance at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) meeting in Las Vegas.
Over the last several years, CMS has been working diligently to implement the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) technology in physician organizations across the country. In an effort to increase the use of technology and streamline implementation, CMS enacted EHR Incentive Programs to encourage the adoption of new technology and measure the benefits they provide for patient outcomes. In recent years, progress has been made with the enactment of Meaningful Use incentives but there is still concern from physicians about the burden placed on them due to the time the documentation takes away from caring for patients. These concerns have caused CMS to shift their focus and transition from measuring “clicks” to measuring performance.
The CMS Administrators have pointed out that Meaningful Use would continue into the unforeseeable future as a component of the composite provider performance score enacted in the new Medicare Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), stating “While MACRA also continues to require that physicians be measured on their meaningful use of certified EHR technology for purposes of determining their Medicare payments, it provides a significant opportunity to transition the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for physicians towards the reality of where we want to go next.”
To read more on this topic in a recent column I wrote for the Birmingham Medical News, click here.