ONC: Providers Must Still Follow Meaningful Use Guidelines

Even though the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program is slated to be phased out, federal regulators will continue to measure whether physicians are using meaningful use certified electronic health record systems (EHRs) in order to determine Medicare payments. In other words, meaningful use criteria and measurements should still be met.

This is a point that Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), reiterated at a recent meeting of the ONC Health IT Policy and Standards Committees in Washington, DC.

“We’re considering how MACRA and MIPS [the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System] vis-à-vis the meaningful use program will begin to shift our focus to outcomes-based rewards using health IT, compared with really incentivizing the use of health IT as a more near-term strategy that’s been successful in the last few years,” said Karen DeSalvo, according to an article in Health Data Management.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) includes two Medicare payment programs, including MIPS and alternative payment models (APMs). These programs, according to DeSalvo, will require providers to continue to use health IT to make the most of their data.

DeSalvo and other committee members pointed out that MACRA adjusts participation and payment for meaningful use for Medicare-eligible professionals and requires them to use certified health IT, much like the current meaningful use program. In January ONC announced that it would be drastically changing the meaningful use program, and that new regulations were expected for public comment this spring.

Elise Sweeney Anthony, acting director of ONC’s Office of Policy, said that ONC would be “working hand in hand with CMS as we think about what that [new program] looks like and how best to move the use of certified health IT forward for the benefit of providers and patients,” Health Data Management reported.

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