CIOs celebrate end to meaningful use, want more details on future programs

CIOs celebrate end to meaningful use, want more details on future programs

Some execs say easing off of the requirements will allow providers to focus more on innovation.

Healthcare chief information officers breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday when Andy Slavitt said the end of the meaningful use program was near. But many are waiting on the details before celebrating too much.

The acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt said in a speech at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that meaningful use would be replaced with a more streamlined regulatory approach in line with the merit-based alternative payment models of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.

“I am still working with others to validate and understand his statements,” said Pamela McNutt, chief information officer of Methodist Health System in Dallas. “Is MU really going away or are the measures/penalties just rolling into the other programs and it is just semantics?”

Slavitt gave few details on Tuesday, but he alluded to March 25 as an important date for future policies.

Paul Tang, MD, chief medical information officer at Sutter Health’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation, said he sees what Slavitt alluded to as “a natural transition from the carrot-and-push early phases of meaningful use to the payment-for-outcomes ‘pull’ of a reformed payment model that was made possible by the ACA and further shaped by MACRA – the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.”

“The early stages of meaningful use took the country from ‘zero to 60′ in five years, a remarkable achievement that would not have been possible without HITECH,” said Tang. “Now, it’s time for the new payment model that rewards providers for achieving better health outcomes to be the driver of innovation, using the new electronic infrastructure that is now in place. That was the vision for ‘Phase 3’ from the very beginning.”

Jim Noga, CIO at Partners HealthCare in Boston, welcomed the news. “Meaningful use has met its primary and important objectives and shifting from prescriptive regulations mandating EHR functionality to measuring its value and impact on patient outcomes is the right move,” he said. “This will also allow the healthcare IT community to focus its energies on innovation, interoperability, and initiatives such as patient reported outcomes, population health management and enhancing the patient experience and all that entails.”

George T. Hickman, CIO at Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, blamed some of the recent frustrations with meaningful use on Washington.

“It’s truly unfortunate, but I’m not surprised,” he said. “The lack of alignment in Washington, varied interpretations by our industry and its vendors, and the resulting and inefficient ‘MU clicks,’ as termed and borne by our physicians have led down this path.”

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