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How do efforts to meet federally established requirements for Meaningful Use of electronic health records (EHRs) relate to the formation of accountable care organizations (ACOs)?
Both are the focus of major initiatives aimed at changing the way health care is delivered in our nation. And both are rooted in different mammoth pieces of legislation—the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), respectively.
Some recent developments have made the connection between these two initiatives clearer.
On Feb. 11, the Meaningful Use Workgroup (MUWG) issued a presentation covering its Meaningful Use Stage 3 draft recommendations. The presentation includes over two dozen requirements. Of course, not all of them will find their way into the proposed rule, which the Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC) is expected to issue later this year, and even fewer will make it into the final rule, which is slated for release in the spring of 2015. What is clear is that the HITPC has asked the MUWG to focus on four areas—clinical decision support, patient engagement, care coordination, and population health management. This direction on focus areas provides, arguably for the first time, a clear and explicit link between the MU program and both ACOs and other healthcare delivery reforms that support fee-for-value.
The linkage between Meaningful Use and ACOs was also evident in the messaging and vision casting that National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner shared in their keynote addresses on Feb. 27 at HIMSS14 in Orlando, Fla.
In addition, a piece of legislation currently being considered in Congress, H.R. 4015, the SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate) Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014, seeks to consolidate certain healthcare delivery reforms and programs. In addition to resolving the longstanding SGR conundrum by stabilizing the physician fee schedule’s annual updates for the next 10 years and beyond, H.R. 4015 also brings together three Medicare quality payment programs, including Meaningful Use of EHRs, and it provides strong financial incentives for ACOs and other Alternative Payment Models.
Simply put, Meaningful Use of EHRs provides one of the numerous infrastructural building blocks needed for ACOs to carry out effective population health management. Bringing together these two significant changes to the way health care is delivered brings to mind former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Blumenthal’s vision of “an electronic circulatory system for health information that nourishes the practice of medicine, research and public health, making healthcare professionals better at what they do and the American people healthier” (New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 30, 2009).
Ken Perez is vice president of healthcare policy for Omnicell, Inc., in Mountain View, Calif.
Publication Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Tom Myers, chief strategy officer, The SSI Group, discusses the shifting payment environment and how it affects providers' patient access and claims management processes.
Jeff Chester, senior vice president and chief revenue officer at Availity, shares his thoughts on "Revenue Cycle 2.0" and how to best meet its challenges.
Mitch Morris, vice chair and global leader, healthcare, Deloitte, and Michael O'Rourke, senior vice president and chief information officer, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), share perspectives on the need for transformational IT in health care today.
Brian Kueppers, founder and CEO, Apex, discusses the importance of a robust patient payment strategy in boosting organization revenue and enhancing patient satisfaction.
Brian Grazzini, CFO, HealthPort, describes the importance of efficient and compliant information exchange and audit management in helping HIM staff spend less time on paperwork and more on mission-critical projects.
Cindy Matthews, executive vice president, Community Hospital Corporation, discusses how rural and community hospitals can use collaborative partnering to position for success through tough market conditions.
Rick Heise, senior vice president, revenue cycle, at Cerner Corporation, discusses the importance of integrating clinical and financial data to excel in health care’s changing payment environment.
Russ Graney, founder and CEO for Aidin, and John Laursen, head of business development for Aidin, share insights on how to improve care transitions between acute and post-acute care settings and incentivize high-quality patient outcomes.
Scott Elston, strategic accounts manager, GE Healthcare Services, describes how substantial cost reduction in health care requires rethinking business strategy and asset use.
Robert Williams, MD, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Arielle Freiberger, product strategist, ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte, explain how sophisticated retrospective, real-time, and predictive data analytics can inform decision making to reduce costs and improve care.
Stuart Hanson, director of business development (healthcare solutions) at Citi Retail Services, discusses how improving the payment experience can benefit consumers and healthcare providers.
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