Healthcare organizations praise CMS’ overhaul of EHR incentive programs

LAS VEGAS — After CMS administrator Seema Verma announced plans to overhaul of the federal electronic health record incentive programs, healthcare organizations are wondering how those plans will unfold and whether they’ll meet the stated goal of boosting interoperability.

Details on the changes have been few and far between. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will continue to work with the CMS to figure that out, said ONC head Dr. Donald Rucker.

“The goal is to really get information flowing and to put patients in control,” Rucker said. The government might do that by pushing open APIs, which Rucker has called the “most transformative” tool for interoperability.

Whether the overhaul will achieve that depends on what it includes and on how providers and others react to it, according to some healthcare organizations. Here, a sampling of what the industry had to say about what it wants to change and whether it can expect the changes to affect interoperability.

“If they still push interoperability and the C-CDA and have good API requirements, the overhaul will work well.”

— Micky Tripathi, CEO, Massachusetts eHealth Cooperative

“The focus is on interoperability and patient access to data. But I don’t see how it could be easier if we’re going to focus on the things that are toughest. TO me, what needs the overhaul is the quality payment program.”

— Naomi Levinthal, practice manager, Advisory Board

“The overhaul and interoperability go hand in hand.”

— Kathy Mosbaugh, vice president of healthcare analytics, LexisNexis RiskSolutions

“It’s exciting to see the federal government taking such significant action to ensure data follows the patient. We’ve long known the value of understanding claims data at the clinical point of care and hope other sources of data—such as that with commercial payers—will soon follow suit and better support needs of individuals.”

— Meg Marshall, senior director of public policy, Cerner

“Interoperability requirements were deferred for many years. The thing that made me optimistic is that there’d be no more deferrals. But I worry about the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, which could set back interoperability by years.”

— Carl Dvorak, president, Epic Systems Corp.

“We applaud the freeing of CMS data for patients, and we echo CMS’s sentiment that the deep burden afflicted on healthcare that is associated with documentation must be alleviated. While we wish CMS would also take this opportunity to recognize and work with ONC on the burden that the EHR certification program places on users of those products, we recognize CMS’s objective as being well-meaning.”

— Kyle Armbrester, chief product officer, Athenahealth

“We are hopeful the ACI overhaul outlined today will move us away from prescriptive measurements and toward using technology to improve patient health outcomes and patient access to data. We look forward to working with the administration in fleshing out the details to ensure that physicians get to spend more time caring for their patients and less time on administrative tasks.”

— Dr. David Barbe, president of the American Medical Association

“CMS’s announcements this week underscore the growing importance of health IT in care delivery as the move to value-based reimbursement continues to accelerate.”

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