Changes Coming to MACRA Announced at #HIMSS18

Posted on March 7, 2018 I Written By

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At the HIMSS18 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Seema Verma announced a new HHS initiative called MyHealthEData. It’s not actually clear to me how this initiative works. It says that it will make clear that “patients deserve to not only electronically receive a copy of their entire health record, but also to be able to share their data with whomever they way, making the patient the center of the healthcare system.”

All of us as patients love this idea. What’s not clear to me from this announcement is what HHS and Seema Verma are going to do to make this a reality. It’s nice that they’re pushing it, but will they use something that will really motivate healthcare organizations to change?

As an almost afterthought in the press release for the MyHealthEData initiative was this section on MACRA:

Additionally, CMS intends to overhaul its Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs to refocus the programs on interoperability and to reduce the time and cost required of providers to comply with the programs’ requirements. CMS will continue to collaborate with ONC to improve the clinician experience with their EHRs.

Administrator Verma said CMS has implemented laws regarding information blocking – a practice in which providers prevent patients from getting their data. Under some CMS programs, hospitals and clinicians must show they have not engaged in information blocking activities.

The Administrator also highlighted other CMS plans to empower patients with data:

  • CMS is requiring providers to update their systems to ensure data sharing.
  • CMS intends to require that a patient’s data follow them after they are discharged from the hospital.
  • CMS is working to streamline documentation and billing requirements for providers to allow doctors to spend more time with their patients.
  • CMS is working to reduce the incidence of unnecessary and duplicative testing which occurs as a result of providers not sharing data.

This definitely isn’t clear what changes are coming to MACRA (or Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive programs as she calls it), but it is clear that CMS is going to work to simplify the requirements for MACRA. We’ll all be watching this with a keen eye. I also found the push for interoperability fascinating since it’s what I’ve suggested would be a much narrower goal that could be achievable with the right incentives.

I was also interested with the bullet point about streamlining documentation and billing requirements. We all can’t wait for this, but I think it’s much harder to change than I think most of us think.

Change is coming to MACRA. What’s your prediction on the changes that will be made to MACRA?