- As part of an effort to overhaul the EHR Incentive Programs, CMS is renaming the meaningful use program “Promoting Interoperability.”
The Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Advancing Care Information performance category will also be renamed to the “Promoting Interoperability” performance category.
CMS announced the change as part of a proposed rule issued on April 24 that will transform the EHR Incentive Programs, as well as introduce changes to Medicare payment policy rates under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS).
The proposed policies mark progress in implementing the aims of the MyHealthEData initiative, which prioritizes patient health data access and interoperability improvements.
“We seek to ensure the healthcare system puts patients first,” said Administrator Seema Verma. “Today’s proposed rule demonstrates our commitment to patient access to high quality care while removing outdated and redundant regulations on providers.”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,” she continued. “Secretary Azar has made such a value-based transformation in our healthcare system a top priority for HHS, and CMS is taking important, concrete steps toward achieving it.”
Specifically, CMS plans to change the EHR Incentive Programs in the following ways:
- make the program 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 proposed rule also mandates that providers use 2015 edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT) in 2019 to demonstrate meaningful use and qualify for federal incentive payments.
“This updated technology includes the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), which have the potential to improve the flow of information between providers and patients,” stated CMS in a press release. “Patients could collect their health information from multiple providers and potentially incorporate all of their health information into a single portal, application, program, or other software.”
Encouraging the use of technologies that enable seamless health data exchange can help patients more easily share information with providers to reduce duplicate testing and promote continuity of care.
As part of the proposed rule, CMS is requesting stakeholder feedback through a Request for Information (RFI) about how to revise Conditions of Participation to promote interoperability and increase health data exchange between hospitals.
Furthermore, the 2019 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule suggests policies that reduce unnecessary, redundant, and process-driven quality measures from quality reporting and pay-for-performance programs, the federal agency announced.
“The proposed rule would eliminate a significant number of measures acute care hospitals are currently required to report and remove duplicative measures across the 5 hospital quality and value-based purchasing programs,” clarified CMS.
Reducing the number of quality measures may help to lessen administrative burden on providers. Other changes part of the proposed rule are intended to reduce the number of hours providers spend on paperwork to shift the focus back to the patient.
“CMS is proposing this new flexibility so that hospitals can spend more time providing care to their patients thereby improving the quality of care their patients receive,” concluded CMS.