Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma on Tuesday announced several new Trump Administration initiatives aimed at tackling complex electronic health record (EHR) interoperability issues and increasing patient access to healthcare data.
During her speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual meeting, HIMSS18, Verma announced the MyHealthEData Initiative, a government-wide initiative looking to “break down the barriers that contribute to preventing patients from being able to access and control their medical records,” such as the lack of interoperable EHRs. One piece of the initiative especially pertinent to health information management (HIM) professionals is CMS’s plan to streamline policies and documentation guidelines for Evaluation and Management (E&M) codes in an effort to reduce the time clinicians spend inputting codes and information into EHRs, according to CMS.
“MyHealthEData makes it clear that patients should have access and control to share their data with whomever they want, making the patient the center of our healthcare system. Patients need to be able to control their information and know that it’s secure and private,” Verma said in prepared remarks at HIMSS18. “Having access to their medical information will help them make decisions about their care, and have a better understanding of their health.”
The initiative includes plans for several regulatory and program requirement changes that CMS hopes will give patients access to their full healthcare records and enable them to take their records from provider to provider, according to a CMS fact sheet. The initiative will be led by the White House Office of American Innovation with participation from the Department of Health and Human Services, CMS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We cannot effectively transition to a value-based system unless we provide to both the doctor and the patient all of the clinical and payment data required at the point of care, to help them mutually make a different and better decision than they could have today,” Verma said.
Part of the initiative will be launching Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0, an updated version of the health information sharing platform first released in 2010 that allows patients to download claims data as a PDF file. Blue Button 2.0, discussed further in this CMS press release, will provide Medicare patients their claims data in a “universal and secure digital format” that can be shared with providers and used on applications designed to help patients manage their health, according to the CMS fact sheet.
Other MyHealthEData initiatives include:
- Streamlining CMS’s “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Programs and MACRA’s Quality Payment Program to focus on interoperability and reduce the burden of program compliance
- Prioritizing the use of quality measures and improvement activities in value-based care and quality programs that lead to interoperability
- Requiring hospitals and clinicians under some CMS programs to prove they are not engaging in “information blocking”
- Requiring healthcare providers to use the 2015 Edition Certified EHR Technology by 2019, which requires giving patients electronic data in a secure and useable way
- Specifying what types of electronic discharge information must be shared between hospitals and a patient receiving facility or post-acute care provider
- Modernize documentation and billing requirements for E&M codes to reduce clinician burden
- Study the extent and impact of duplicative testing and identify ways to reduce the number of unnecessary duplicative tests performed
Chris Dimick is editor-in-chief of the Journal of AHIMA.