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3 Things to Know about CMS' Proposed Changes to Meaningful Use

by Allison LaValley, Executive Director of Clinical Performance

On April 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made good on their promise from January to modify Meaningful Use requirements. The result is a 200-page document including detailed proposed changes to the Meaningful Use program, so we’ve surfaced some of the biggest takeaways providers should be aware of:  

1)   The complexity – and difficultly – in meeting program requirements would be dramatically reduced

Among many major program changes, the rule proposes allowing a continuous 90-day reporting period in 2015, reducing the overall number of measures, and removing measures that are redundant, duplicative, or have reached widespread adoption. Some of the removed measures include:

  • Recording  demographics, vital signs, family health history and smoking status
  • Providing clinical summaries to patients
  • Entering structured lab results
  • Sending preventive reminders to patients

The proposed changes also dramatically scale back patient engagement requirements. For example, under current Meaningful Use requirements, 5%of patients need to send the provider a secure message; under the proposed rule, providers only need to prove that the capability was enabled during the reporting period.

Honestly, we’re disappointed by this change. We have heard a number of success stories from our clients about the benefits they’ve achieved by implementing changes that encourage portal adoption for patients to initiate communication and view their health information. We continue to believe that increased patient engagement is a critical ingredient to improving patient outcomes and reducing health care costs.

2)   This is a proposed rule (not final!) and likely won’t be finalized for three to four months

This important to remember. In the world of CMS policy making, the public must be given a period of time (typically 60 days) to comment on proposed policy. It then typically takes at least another 60 days for comments to be reviewed and incorporated into a final rule.

3)   Until the program changes are finalized, continue on course as planned

We don’t expect major changes to this proposed rule because it lowers the Meaningful Use performance bar as was so often requested across the industry – but it’s not final until it’s final.

The likelihood is that this rule won’t be finalized until this summer. We strongly recommend you continue to perform against the current program requirements.

By continuing on course, you’ll already be meeting revised program requirements soon after the final rule is published. Hopefully, that will free you up to focus on a smooth ICD-10 transition, and ensure that your 2015 PQRS quality performance is on-track to avoid 2017 penalties.

We’re currently reviewing our cloud-based software, services, and processes to ensure that all our clients will meet the revised program requirements as soon as they are finalized. As always, we’ll keep you updated along the way!

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Comments

Submitted by Donna Masucci RN - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Allison it is always comforting that we can depend upon athenistas to keep us informed and mentor us especially with the forever changing regulatory rules. I too am so disappointed that CMS has dummied down the requirements. Will be on the look-out to see more info to come. Thanks for all your support.

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