News | Electronic Medical Records (EMR) | January 15, 2016

CMS Replacing Meaningful Use Program with Meaningful Outcomes

New program will shift focus from incentives for EMR use to incentives for improved patient outcomes through EMR use

CMS, Meaningful Use replacement, Meaningful Outcomes, JPM16

January 15, 2016 — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Monday that it will be ending the Meaningful Use program that was meant to encourage the adoption of electronic medical records (EMR). CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt made the announcement during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Jan. 11-14 in San Francisco.

For six years, the $19 billion Meaningful Use program has advanced the adoption of EMR technology in the United States. Some say the program has created a gridlock of information technology resources with its complex regulations that confused vendors and CIOs equally.

"The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better,” said Slavitt. “Since late last year we have been working side by side with physician organizations across many communities — including with great advocacy from the AMA (American Medical Association) — and have listened to the needs and concerns of many. We will be putting out the details on this next stage over the next few months, but I will give you [the] themes guiding our implementation.

“For one, the focus will move away from rewarding providers for the use of technology and towards the outcome they achieve with their patients.

“Second, providers will be able to customize their goals so tech companies can build around the individual practice needs, not the needs of the government. Technology must be user-centered and support physicians, not distract them.

“Third, one way to aid this is by leveling the technology playing field for startups and new entrants. We are requiring open APIs (application program interfaces) in order [that] the physician desktop can be opened up and move away from the lock that early EHR decisions placed on physician organizations [and] allow apps, analytic tools and connected technologies to get data in and out of an EHR securely."

HealthLoop, provider of patient engagement technology, hosted a subsequent panel discussion during JPM16 with physician leaders where the initial response supported the new CMS direction.

“Providing superior patient care is a goal all physicians have; we want to achieve better outcomes, and patients want a good experience. This new movement changes the goal from technology requirements to patient and physician care coordination,” said Jordan Shlain, M.D., a national leader in digital health and healthcare redesign.

As more details emerge from CMS, the healthcare technology sector is anticipating a boom in innovation resulting from interoperability based on shared APIs and rapid adoption of patient engagement services leading to better patient engagement. Ambulatory and hospital facilities are preparing for a shift to data-driven evaluation of patient outcomes.

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