CMS has released a proposed rule which will have broad changes to its Meaningful Use Program. Renaming the program, “Promoting Interoperability,” the changes are designed to implement the CMS MyHealthEData initiative to strengthen interoperability and change the rules of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Programs. According to CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, the proposed rule aims to empower patients and reduce administrative burden by changing the way healthcare providers implement electronic health record systems and the impact that implementation would have on patient care. “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 “Today’s proposed rule demonstrates our commitment to patient access to high quality care while removing outdated and redundant regulations on providers.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.
The proposed policies begin implementing core pieces of the government-wide MyHealthEData initiative through several steps to strengthen interoperability or the sharing of healthcare data between providers. Specifically, CMS is proposing to overhaul the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs (also known as the “Meaningful Use” program) to:
- 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 reiterates the requirement for providers to use the 2015 Edition of certified electronic health record technology in 2019 as part of demonstrating meaningful use to qualify for incentive payments and avoid reductions to Medicare 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. 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. This can support a patient’s ability to share their information with another member of their care team or with a new doctor, which can reduce duplication and provide continuity of care. In the proposed rule, CMS is requesting stakeholder feedback through a Request for Information on the possibility of revising Conditions of Participation to revive interoperability as a way to increase electronic sharing of data by hospitals.
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