CMS Looks For New Ways To Incentivize Wise Use of Electronic Health Records

Is Meaningful Use is on the ropes and about to go down for the count?

Speaking in San Francisco on Monday, Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, gave a glimmer of hope to those who refer to the EHR incentive program as “meaningless use.” The CMS administrator said the agency was in the process of ending meaningful use as we know it, and replacing it with something better.

What Do We Mean By “Meaningful Use” Anyway?Robert Lowes sums it up nicely:

Launched in 2011, the EHR incentive program uses bonuses and penalties to encourage physicians to use the technology in “meaningful” ways, such as prescribing electronically, implementing drug-allergy alerts, and communicating with patients online. The ultimate goal is to improve care and lower costs. However, medical societies have protested that increasingly rigorous program requirements are oppressive, turning physicians into bureaucratic box-checkers, and clinically irrelevant in many cases.

Vendors are too busy chasing meaningful use standards to improve their products, and providers are fed up, said Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Overall, I’m convinced that meaningful use has done more to stifle EHR innovation and adoption,” she said.

So what comes next? Is there a clue in Slavitt’s speech? He said, “We are committed to building a program that is flexible and adapts around the goals of a provider’s individual practice and patient population. We will start small and leave a lot of tool building opportunities to the private sector.”

Patient-centered care requires patient-centered data which can be readily entered and called up by physicians at the point of care. From our end, we know clinics need to run EMR software that eliminates waste and helps create productive workflows. We are dedicated to delivering these desired outcomes to our partner clinics, and whatever CMS comes up with next, HealthCo will be there with robust solutions.