For years, meaningful use (MU) has been one of the most infamous topics in healthcare, creating sharp divides among industry professionals.
As we rapidly approach Stage 3, many believe the continuation of the program to be inevitable. But Andy Slavitt, CMS Acting Administrator, recently stated that the program as we know it may be coming to an end.
Here are three changes coming down the pike.
1. Focus on outcomes.
The true purpose of MU was to generate better outcomes for patients. EHR implementation was incentivized and specific guidelines enacted simply as a means to an end.
The hope was that physicians would quickly achieve the preset guidelines and then continue to advance, using the EHR to its fullest capabilities.
However, the program has had its fair share of hiccups. Some physicians have struggled with transitioning to an EHR. Others have faced issues reporting outcomes. And still others have had difficulty meeting minimum MU requirements.
Slavitt acknowledges the struggles. “The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better. Since late last year we have been working side by side with physician organizations across many communities…and have listened to the needs and concerns of many…the focus will move away from rewarding providers for the use of technology and towards the outcome they achieve with their patients,” he said.
2. Go beyond the EHR.
The EHR was a great starting point, essentially pushing providers towards electronic records and documentation. But EHR optimization has remained somewhat stagnant. Slavitt wants more providers to be able to get on board with fewer barriers to entry.
He plans to level the technology playing field even more by requiring open APIs. This will allow physicians to “move away from the lock that early EHR decisions placed,” said Slavitt. Practices will be able to utilize “apps, analytic tools, and connected technologies to get data in and out of an EHR securely.”
3. Embrace interoperability.
From a technology and patient care standpoint, interoperability has long been the goal. The easy sharing of information between providers, as well as with patients, seems ideal.
And while a worthwhile endeavor, the number of moving parts has prevented much progress from being made. But that’s about to change.
As Slavitt commented, “We are deadly serious about interoperability. We will begin initiatives in collaboration with physicians and consumers toward pointing technology to fill critical use cases like closing referral loops and engaging a patient in their care.”
Physicians are likely to embrace interoperability practices, as it makes patient care and provider collaboration much simpler. That is, assuming the technology works as it should.
However, technology vendors, many of whom base their products on proprietary software, may pose a threat to the process. “And technology companies that look for ways to practice ‘data blocking’ in opposition to new regulations will find that it won’t be tolerated,” warned Slavitt.
The next few years certainly hold significant promise...and lots of changes.
Are you prepared for these changes? Do you think they’ll be helpful? Please join the conversation below.