Groups Praise, Urge Caution for Meaningful Use Modifications

June 16, 2015 in News

Several groups have submitted comments on CMS’ proposed meaningful use modifications for 2015 through 2017, Clinical Innovation Technology reports (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 6/15).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Details of Proposal

In April, CMS released a proposed rule that would shorten Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use attestation for eligible professionals and hospitals to a 90-day period in 2015.

Overall, the proposed rule would:

  • Realign the reporting period starting in 2015 to allow hospitals to participate on the calendar year instead of the current fiscal year period;
  • Reduce the number of meaningful use objectives to improve advanced use of EHRs; and
  • Remove redundant measures and those that have become widely adopted.

In addition, the proposed rule would change Stage 2 meaningful use requirements related to patient engagement. Specifically, CMS proposed reducing the requirement for patients to use technology to electronically download, view and transmit their medical records from 5% of eligible providers’ patients to just one patient (iHealthBeat, 4/13).

Comments on the proposed modifications were due June 15 (iHealthBeat, 5/28).

American Medical Group Association Comments

The American Medical Group Association in its comments praised CMS for easing the program’s reporting requirements, as well as for proposing a shorter 90-day reporting period.

AMGA CEO Donald Fisher said, “This proposed rule reflects that CMS has been sensitive to the struggles that the health care industry has had with meaningful use by simplifying some of the reporting requirements through 2017.”

The group also urged CMS to help strengthen the health IT infrastructure to support future data sharing requirements (AMGA release, 6/15).

College of Healthcare Information Management Executives Comments

Russell Branzell, president of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, in his comments called for a middle ground on patient engagement. He wrote that rather than requiring every specialist to demonstrate that patients can “view, download and transmit” their health information, those data should be aggregated into a single location for patients.

He added, “I definitely want patient data made accessible to patients or those taking care of them. But I don’t want to get every note out of some subspecialty office” (Pittman et al., “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 6/16).

Consumer Partnership for eHealth Comments

Meanwhile, a group of 50 advocacy groups organized by the Consumer Partnership for eHealth and the Consumer-Purchase Alliance in its comments expressed disappointment, saying CMS’ proposal to reduce patient engagement requirements would undermine patient engagement efforts (Clinical Innovation Technology, 6/15). Specifically, CPeH said, “CMS’ proposed amendments constitute a dramatic retreat from essential efforts to make patients and family caregivers true and equal partners in improving health through shared information, understanding and decision making” (“Morning eHealth,” Politico, 6/16).

Debra Ness — president of the National Partnership for Women Families, which was part of the coalition — said the groups “urge CMS to keep the existing patient engagement thresholds.”

Meanwhile, Bill Kramer, co-chair of the Consumer-Purchase Alliance, noted that maintaining efforts to give patients and caregivers “electronic access to and use of their health information” is key to achieving interoperability in the U.S. health care system (Clinical Innovation Technology, 6/15).

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Comments

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in a letter to CMS supported the agency’s proposal to ease reporting requirements but urged CMS to be cautious moving forward with other proposals, Health Data Management reports.

Among other things, HIMSS recommended that CMS:

  • Phase-in the new thresholds for the Patient Electronic Access Objective;
  • Reconsider the “unrealistic goal” of the 2016 hospital electronic prescribing requirement; and
  • Take into account the timing of the release of the final rule in terms of the “short turnaround in meeting” its requirements (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 6/16).
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