End of Meaningful Use in 2016 – What Does it Mean?

Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator, CMS, said on Jan 12, that 2016 might likely see the end of the meaningful use program. He said that with the emphasis on the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and alternative models of payment there is a requirement for a new streamlined regulatory approach. The MU program might be replaced with something better very soon in the near future.

Why is the CMS willing to end the MU program?

The MU program seemed to have failed its purpose and there is growing frustration among physicians as it has become distracting. John D. Halamka, MD, MS, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and an authoritative blogger at Life as a Healthcare CIO, stated at Healthcare IT News that “the layers of requirements in Meaningful Use, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule, the Affordable Care Act, ICD-10 and (MACRA) are so complex and confusing that even government experts struggle to understand the implementation details. Each of the regulations leads to various audits. My experience is that even the auditors do not understand the regulatory intent and ask for documentation that far exceeds the capabilities of existing technology.”

Other experts say that this is an initiative by the CMS to restore physician-patient relationship which has been affected due to over-reliance on outdated methods and training.

What are its Impacts?

If the sun sets down on the MU program this year, it means that CMS will no longer reward health care providers for using technology. Instead, it will focus more on patient outcomes through MIPS created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015.

CMS may ask physicians to work with health care IT innovators to create systems that work best according to their practice’s respective needs. In fact, CMS is encouraging the private sector to create apps and analytic tools that will keep data secure while fostering true and widespread interoperability.

Altogether, this sounds like positive news for the U.S. healthcare industry in 2016. Though the CMS chief has revealed few details, March 25, 2016 could be “an important date” for these new initiatives.

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