How Does CMS Meaningful Use “Overhaul” Affect the Urgent Care Industry?

The health care industry has been full of speculation over Seema Verma’s remarks at the HIMSS 2018 Conference in Las Vegas last week. During her presentation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator announced a “complete overhaul” of the EHR Incentive Program (Verma used the outdated “meaningful use” terminology) and the Advancing Care Information performance category of the Quality Payment Program.

At this point, details are incredibly sparse, but according to Verma, CMS is attempting to address EHR interoperability issues and to provide patient access to medical records without the need to log into multiple patient portals. Verma mentioned these few specifics:

  • CMS will focus on interoperability through APIs (application programming interfaces) so patients can share their health care information from provider to provider
  • CMS will overhaul E/M documentation requirements to make it easier for providers to use EHRs

Robyn Reyes, senior product manager for Practice Velocity, says the agency’s announcement regarding E/M documentation changes might be a concern for some EHR providers, but it has never been an issue for Practice Velocity users.

“Unlike other EHR systems, our system does the E/M coding automatically, so it’s never been burdensome for providers who use our EHR,” says Reyes. “No matter what changes CMS makes to E/M codes, we’ll always have that functionality in our EHR.”

As for the purported “overhaul” to the EHR Incentive Program, Reyes says not a whole lot will change for the urgent care industry.

“The EHR Incentive Program has very much focused on ‘inpatient versus outpatient,’ and CMS is focusing pretty specifically on hospitals with this ‘overhaul,’” says Reyes. “As far as we can tell from Verma’s announcement, the Medicare threshold for the MIPs portion of the Quality Payment Program is staying the same. It’s still $90,000 in Medicare Part B allowable charges or fewer than 200 unique Medicare patient per year to qualify. That’s what urgent care providers need to look at to see whether these changes to the EHR Incentive Program will have an impact on them.”

Verma also announced CMS’ new MyHealthEData Initiative and the updated Blue Button 2.0. Learn more in CMS’ fact sheet.

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