Say good­bye to mean­ing­ful use. Sort of

Modern Healthcare - - News | Providers - —Rachel Z. Arndt

The CMS last week took steps to do what many in the in­dus­try have been ad­vo­cat­ing for a while now—put mean­ing­ful use out to pas­ture. Sym­bol­i­cally, at least.

In an in­pa­tient and long-term care pay­ment pro­posal, reg­u­la­tors set out a plan to give the mean­ing­ful use pro­gram a makeover, call­ing it “pro­mot­ing in­ter­op­er­abil­ity.” The goal is to boost in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween pa­tients and providers, a move that mir­rors the gov­ern­ment’s MyHealthEData initiative to give pa­tients more con­trol over their health in­for­ma­tion.

“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,” ac­cord­ing to the CMS.

The push could foster more in­no­va­tion, and it gar­nered some praise from ex­perts.

“It’s a good thing to be de­vel­op­ing apps and APIs for pa- tients in or­der for them to be able to con­sol­i­date in­for­ma­tion from mul­ti­ple pa­tient por­tals into a sin­gle record bank app,” said Dr. David Kibbe, CEO of Direc­tTrust, a not-for­profit health IT col­lab­o­ra­tive.

The new pro­gram doesn’t do away with all cur­rent mean­ing­ful use re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing that providers use the 2015 edi­tion of cer­ti­fied elec­tronic health record tech­nol­ogy in 2019.

Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion lead­ers were dis­ap­pointed by this pro­vi­sion. “The AHA is con­cerned that not all tech­nol­ogy ven­dors yet have 2015-edi­tion cer­ti­fied EHRs,” said Chan­tal Worzala, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s vice pres­i­dent for health IT and pol­icy op­er­a­tions. “Once the ven­dors have the tech­nol­ogy avail­able, ven­dors must sched­ule and work with providers to in­stall it, which can take time.”

The 2015 edi­tion aligns with the pro­vi­sions of the 21st Cen­tury Cures Act that call for us­ing open ap­pli­ca­tion pro­gram­ming in­ter­faces in EHRs.

Reg­u­la­tors asked for pub­lic com­ments on the lo­gis­tics of achiev­ing this new kind of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, par­tic­u­larly fo­cus­ing on bar­ri­ers that could pre­vent pa­tients from ac­cess­ing or con­trol­ling their med­i­cal records.

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