The federal government is working to implement a payment program that is "more flexible, outcome-oriented and less burdensome," according to a blog post written by National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, and Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The EHR Incentive Programs launched the rapid shift to digitized health records, but now ONC and CMS are listening to providers to find out how the healthcare system can better use health IT. The agencies have spoken with more than 6,000 stakeholders over the past several months and, "based on that feedback, we are proposing to incorporate the program in to the Merit-based Payment System (MIPS) in a way that makes it more patient-centric, practice-driven and focused on connectivity," read the post. The new program within MIPS is named Advancing Care Information.
The outcome of feedback sessions is "a near-universal vision of health information technology" of "physicians, patients and other clinicians collaborating on patient care by sharing and building on relevant information."
They established the following three central priorities, according to the post:
- Improved interoperability and the ability of physicians and patients to easily move and receive information from other physicians' systems;
- Increased flexibility in the Meaningful Use program; and
- User-friendly technology designed around how a physician works and interacts with patients.
"Our goal with Advancing Care Information is to support the vision of a simpler, more connected, less burdensome technology," DeSalvo and Slavitt wrote. "Compared to the existing Medicare Meaningful Use program for physicians, the new approach increases flexibility, reduces burden, and improves patient outcomes because it would" do the following:
- Allow physicians and other clinicians to choose to select the measures that reflect how technology best suits their day-to-day practice
- Simplify the process for achievement and provide multiple paths for success
- Align with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria
- Emphasize interoperability, information exchange, and security measures and require patients to access to their health information through of APIs
- Simplify reporting by no longer requiring all-or-nothing EHR measurement or quality reporting
- Reduce the number of measures to an all-time low of 11 measures, down from 18 measures, and no longer require reporting on the clinical decision support and the computerized provider order entry measures
- Exempt certain physicians from reporting when EHR technology is less applicable to their practice and allow physicians to report as a group
"These improvements should increase providers’ ability use technology in ways that are more relevant to their needs and the needs of their patients."
The Advancing Care Information law would affect only Medicare payments to physician offices, not Medicare hospitals or Medicaid programs.
This proposal, if finalized, would replace the current Meaningful Use program and reporting would begin Jan. 1, 2017, along with the other components of the Quality Payment Program.