Nobody knows the answers yet. But a close look at Slavitt’s remarks with some expert assistance yields useful insights into what might lie ahead.
CMS’ game plan
At the J.P. Morgan conference Slavitt said, “Now that we effectively have technology into virtually every place care is provided, we are now in the process of ending Meaningful Use and moving to a new regime culminating with the MACRA [Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act] implementation. The Meaningful use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.”
In his speech, Slavitt said that the program’s emphasis will shift from the use of the technology to patient outcomes. He also said, “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.”
Slavitt noted as well that CMS is requiring “open APIs [application programming interfaces]” that will allow physician organizations to use outside apps and will make it easier to “get data in and out of an EHR securely.” Lastly, he said CMS is “deadly serious” about interoperability and will ensure it can be applied in “critical use cases like closing referral loops and engaging a patient in their care.”
All of this is consistent with what CMS said last year when it announced the final rule for changes to Meaningful Use stage 2 requirements and for stage 3 requirements. The agency explained that it was going to transition the EHR incentive program into the framework of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization (MACRA) legislation, which will combine Meaningful Use with the Physicians Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and the value-based modifier program as part of the Merit-Based Incentive Program (MIPS).