Meaningful use still in effect, Slavitt and DeSalvo say, MACRA changes will take time

Meaningful use still in effect, Slavitt and DeSalvo say, MACRA changes will take time

While news of the program’s demise excited the industry, changes to it will not arrive at least until the spring, officials say.

Two big changes have helped cause this shift from measuring technology adoption levels to looking for quality outcomes, they wrote.

First was HHS’ ambitious goal, announced about a year ago, that 30 percent of Medicare payments be linked to value-based care in 2016, and 50 percent by 2018.

The second was the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, or MACRA, which holds quality, cost and clinical practice improvements as key factors in determining how Medicare physician payments are doled out.

“While MACRA also continues to require that physicians be measured on their meaningful use of certified EHR technology for purposes of determining their Medicare payments,” Slavitt and DeSalvo wrote, “it provides a significant opportunity to transition the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for physicians towards the reality of where we want to go next.”

CMS has been “working side by side with physician and consumer communities and have listened to their needs and concerns,” according to CMS and ONC.

Further details for the proposed rules, along with a public comment period, will be forthcoming “this spring.” In the meantime, Slavitt and DeSalvo promised a new set of priorities that reward providers for the outcomes they’re able to achieve for their patients with the help of technology.

This means they’ll be “allowing providers the flexibility to customize health IT to their individual practice needs,” they wrote. “Technology must be user-centered and support physicians.”

They also pledge to help level the playing field to spur innovation, “including for start-ups and new entrants,” by focusing on the open APIs so common in consumer technology. “This way, new apps, analytic tools and plug-ins can be easily connected to so that data can be securely accessed and directed where and when it is needed in order to support patient care,” according to Slavitt and DeSalvo.

And interoperability will continue to be a priority for both agencies, which will continue to drive national interoperability standards that are based in “real-world uses of technology, like ensuring continuity of care during referrals or finding ways for patients to engage in their own care.”

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