CMS proposes overhaul of meaningful use program

By Erik L. Ridley, AuntMinnie staff writer

April 25, 2018 -- The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a number of changes to its Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) for 2019, including renaming and overhauling its meaningful use IT stimulus program.

In addition to policies aimed at giving patients better access to hospital price information, the agency's proposed rule would bring a new focus to the IT stimulus program, which would now be called Promoting Interoperability. CMS has also included some measures in the proposed rule aimed at reducing the burden of quality measures on providers.

CMS said that its proposed policies begin implementing core pieces of the government's MyHealthEData initiative by taking steps to strengthen interoperability or sharing of healthcare data between providers. Specifically, the agency is seeking to overhaul the meaningful use program to make it more flexible and less burdensome, as well as to emphasize measures that require the exchange of health information between providers and patients. What's more, CMS also wants to incentivize providers to make it easier for patients to obtain their medical records electronically.

In addition, the proposed rule reiterates the requirements for providers to use the 2015 edition of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology in 2019 as part of demonstrating meaningful use to qualify for incentive payments and avoid reductions to Medicare payments, according to CMS.

"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," CMS said in a statement. "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."

CMS noted that it's also requesting stakeholder feedback on the possibility of revising conditions of participation to revive interoperability as a way to increase electronic sharing of data by hospitals.

In other changes included in the proposed rule, CMS is proposing to remove "unnecessary, redundant, and process-driven quality measures" from quality reporting and pay-for-performance programs. A total of 19 measures would be removed and 21 measures would be de-duplicated from the five hospital quality and value-based purchasing programs, according to CMS.

In addition, CMS is proposing changes to decrease the number of hours providers spend on paperwork, enabling hospitals to spend more time providing care to their patients, according to the agency.

"In sum this results in the elimination of 25 total measures across the five programs with well over 2 million burden hours reduced for hospital providers impacted by the IPPS proposed rule, saving them $75 million," CMS wrote.

The full proposed rule can be found on the Federal Register's website. Comments will be accepted until June 25.


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