Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs

Kate Goodrich, Director Center for Clinical Standards & Quality

We are living in a time of unprecedented change for health IT.  Initiatives like the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs are at the forefront of hospitals, physicians and nurse practitioners to adopt an electronic medium for patient information.   CMS and physicians have a shared goal in the EHR program of helping physicians, clinicians, and hospitals to deliver better care, smarter spending, and healthier people.

The requirements of ‘Meaningful use’ are defined in 42 CFR Part 495, but the general intent of meaningful use is for providers to show they’re using certified EHR technology in ways that improve care.

EHRs also have the ability to support other care-related activities directly or indirectly through various interfaces, including evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting.  EHRs are the next step in the continued progress of healthcare that can strengthen the relationship between patients and clinicians.  The data, and the timeliness and availability of it, will enable providers to make better decisions and provide better care.

CMS has heard from physicians and other providers about the challenges they face making EHRs work well for their individual practices and for their patients.  CMS is committed to actively engaging with stakeholders and the general public to obtain the input that is needed on how to improve the EHR Incentive Programs over time. CMS encourages all stakeholders and the general public to submit comments on the recent final rule with comment period for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs final rule by December 15, 2015.

Medicare eligible professionals are encouraged to consider applying for exceptions to the Medicare payment adjustments if they need to switch technology or have other technology difficulties with their EHR vendor. Information on the exception process and the relevant dates in 2016 are available here. CMS looks forward to feedback from physicians to inform future policy developments for the EHR Incentive Programs.

 

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