CMS Looks to Axe Meaningful Use in 2016
Late Monday, the Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), Andy Slavitt, surprised many by stating that the Meaningful Use program would be ended and replaced with “something better”. Meaningful Use is the program by which hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals are financially rewarded for the “meaningful use” of electronic health records (or penalized for the lack thereof). Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Slavitt included the following remarks:
“The Meaningful Use program, as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better. We will be putting out the details on this next stage over the next few months, but I will give you … themes guiding our implementation.
“For one, the focus will move away from rewarding providers for the use of technology and towards the outcome they achieve with their patients.
“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.
“Third, one way to aid this is by leveling the technology playing field for start-ups and new entrants. We are requiring open APIs in order [that] the physician desktop can be opened up and move away from the lock that early EHR decisions placed on physician organizations so that … apps, analytic tools, and connected technologies … get data in and out of an EHR securely.
“And finally, we are deadly serious about interoperability. We will 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 their care. And technology companies that look for ways to practice ‘data blocking’ in opposition to new regulations will find that it won’t be tolerated.”
Slavitt’s remarks continue a theme outlined by CMS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (“ONC”), and other federal agencies of the desire to open up data currently locked in proprietary electronic health record (“EHR”) systems. The apparent goal is to gain greater collection and sharing of data through the use of apps, internet-connected devices and other “APIs”.
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