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CMS Wants Meaningful Use to Put Providers Back in Charge

By revamping CMS meaningful use and putting the physician back in the EHR driver’s seat, Slavitt hopes to regain some physician cooperation and trust.

By Sara Heath

- Meaningful use will cease to exist as it used be, according to the acting administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt.*

cms AMA meaningful use EHR incentive programs

NB. The recently issued propose rule for MACRA implementation will end meaningful use for physicians in 2017.

Earlier this week, executives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA) convened at the 34th Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference  to discuss the evolving healthcare market and the direction meaningful use is going to take going forward.

CMS’s acting administrator Andy Slavitt explained that the CMS meaningful use program as it has previously existed will essentially end.

“The CMS meaningful use program as it has existed will now effectively be over, and replaced with something better,” Slavitt said. “Since late last year we’ve been working side by side with physician organizations across many communities, including with great advocacy from the AMA and have listened to the needs and concerns of many. We’ll be putting out the details of this next stage over the next few months, but I’ll give you a couple of themes that are guiding our implementation.”

In essence, these three themes illustrate a shift toward provider-oriented EHR use. Instead of CMS dictating the specific measurements of CMS meaningful use, requirements will be geared toward specific providers and practices to best serve their unique patient populations.

“For one, the focus will move away from rewarding providers for the use of technology and towards the outcome they achieve with their patients,” Slavitt explained. “Second, providers will be able to customize their goals so tech companies can build around the individual practice needs, not the needs of the government; technology must be user-centered and support physicians, not distract them.”

Slavitt told the audience that these changes reinforce what he believes it the sole purpose of CMS: to assist providers in achieving what they believe is best for their patients. CMS will serve to reward physicians who are successful in achieving their patient-oriented goals.

“Our role is actually much more minor,” Slavitt maintained. “Our role is simply to say, ‘for the things that you want to accomplish, if you accomplish them on behalf of our beneficiaries, you ought to get rewarded.’ So we’re not the driver; we really are there to reinforce the things physicians should want to do.”

Dig Deeper

How Eligible Providers Performed in Stage 2 Meaningful Use

Breaking Down Stage 2 Meaningful Use Attestation in 2016

Debating Meaningful Use Requirements for Patient Engagement

Furthermore, the CMS meaningful use programs will also aim to level the developer playing field and to facilitate the development of apps and analytics capabilities. Ideally, these policies will create better data collection.

These changes appeared to be welcome by AMA vice president and CEO James L. Madara, who also presented. According to Madara, CMS’s move toward the back seat will help providers figure out their own quality standards. When CMS first developed meaningful use, Madara said the requirements were arguably too prescriptive. By giving more power back to the physician, Madara claims buy-in for EHR technologies will increase.

“What we learned from our own studies and studies with others is physicians are motivated by patient care and they’re motivated by things they believe in,” Madara stated. “If they’re asked to do box checking on process measures that they don’t think have an evidence base, it really deteriorates the relationship with the system between the physician community and the regulators.”

Slavitt agreed. “[W]e have to get the hearts and minds of the physicians back.”

By revamping CMS meaningful use and putting the physician back in the EHR driver’s seat, Slavitt hopes to regain some physician cooperation and trust.

Slavitt also explained some of CMS’s plans to bolster EHR interoperability, stating that the agency will be implementing anti-data blocking regulations.

“[W]e’re deadly serious about interoperability,” he asserted. “We’ll begin initiatives in collaboration with physicians and consumers toward pointing technology to fill critical use cases like closing referral loops and engaging a patient in her care. And technology companies that look for ways to practice data blocking in opposition to new regulations will find that it will not be tolerated.”

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