Alex Azar, Secretary of HHS is Promoting Interoperability

Alex Azar, Secretary of HHS

Today CMS announced that it is renaming multiple EHR incentive programs to “Promoting Interoperability” (PI).

This name change affects multiple programs:

  • The hospital Medicare and Medicaid “Meaningful Use” programs,
  • The physician Medicaid “Meaningful Use” programs,
  • The MIPS “Advancing Care Information” category.

These four programs will continue to be separate programs and will have different rules.  According to CMS, this change will “continue the agency’s focus on improving patients’ access to health information and reduce the time and cost required of providers to comply with the programs’ requirements.”

CMS has introduced a new landing page which includes its resources for these multiple programs.

This change to “Promoting Interoperability” reflects the fact that these programs are dominated by requirements for communication and interaction with 3rd parties and 3rd party systems.  Consider, for example, the MIPS program for physicians and other eligible professionals.  Starting in 2019, this program will require the “2015 Edition” of certified EHRs implement the Stage 3 requirements which include this type of functionality.  Example measures in the MIPS program which will be effective starting in 2019 and which will require this interoperability include:

  • Provide Patient Access – providing patients access to their information through a portal
  • Send a Summary of Care – sending a summary of care record to another provider
  • Request/Accept Summary of Care – requesting a summary of care record from another provider, and incorporating it into the EHR
  • View, Download or Transmit (VDT) – providing patients the ability to view, download, or transmit their data to a 3rd party
  • Secure Messaging – sending secure electronic messages to patients
  • Patient-Generated Health Data – incorporating patient generated data, for example from a glucometer or Fitbit, into the EHR
  • Public Health and Clinical Data Registry Reporting Measures – these measures require transmission of data to a third party such as a public health agency or a qualified clinical data registry

For the previously-named physician Medicaid Meaningful Use programs and the MIPS Advancing Care information program, only the name has changed.  For the hospital programs, CMS has also proposed substantial changes in reimbursement methodology and other reporting which are detailed in their press release.

For more information on these programs, see Eagle Consulting’s MIPS Topic Page and the Meaningful Use Topic Page.


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