Healthcare IT

Meaningful Use is dead! Long live Meaningful Use!

In a nutshell those are the comments made in January by Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt at the J.P. Morgan Annual Health Care Conference.

The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over…

You can now hear physicians groups burdened by the inflexible EMR mandate rejoicing.  But then Slavitt continues.

and replaced with something better…We will be putting out the details on this next stage over the next few months…


So what is the new meaningful use going to look like? Slavitt mentions four points:

  • Not rewarding physicians for simply using EMRs
  • “Providers will be able to customize their goals so tech companies can build around the individual practice needs, not the needs of the government.”  I’m not sure what this means since if the government wants to regulate, there needs to be some standards.  If physicians can do what they want, then there is really no point of implementing a Meaningful Use replacement.
  • Requiring open APIs.  This will allow new entrants into this space, but security could be an issue.
  • Interoperability is key.  “Technology companies that look for ways to practice “data blocking” in opposition to new regulations will find that it won’t be tolerated.” How exactly the government will enforce this rule, however, is unclear.

A report last month noted that the share of physicians participating in meaningful use has decreased.  However, EHR incentives will still be in place for clinicians treating Medicare patients.

While MACRA provides an opportunity to adjust payment incentives associated with EHR incentives in concert with the principles we outlined here, it does not eliminate it, nor will it instantly eliminate all the tensions of the current system. But we will continue to listen and learn and make improvements based on what happens on the front line.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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