HHS Issues Rules to Simplify EHR Requirements for Providers

The announcement covered a final rule on interoperability for creators of Health IT, and a proposal to simplify current rules for providers. Both look ahead to implementation of the new Medicare and CHIP reimbursement models.

Agencies within HHS yesterday issued final rules to improve the flow of electronic health information and proposed a new one that seeks to simplify the use of electronic health records (EHR) for providers, according to a statement.

CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology jointly proposed the new requirements for providers, which CMS said was based on feedback from physicians on the real-world problems they have faced putting EHR to use in their practices. A 60-day comment period will follow to allow more time for feedback.

“We have a shared goal of electronic health records helping physicians, clinicians and hospitals to deliver better care, smarter spending, and healthier people,” said Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, CMS deputy administrator and chief medical officer. “We eliminated unnecessary requirements, simplified and increased flexibility for those that remain, and focused on interoperability, information exchange, and patient engagement.”

Conway noted that the rules seek to move beyond “meaningful use” to full-scale delivery system reform by 2018, which is the year that HHS has targeted for at least 50% of Medicare reimbursements to be based on value-based payment models. Such efforts demand wide-scale information sharing among providers and across health systems to identify patients in need of interventions to prevent serious medical events or hospitalization.

The rulemaking process seeks to take into account the implementation of MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Authorization Act, which earlier this year eliminated the former Sustainable Growth Rate for calculating reimbursements and set payment policy on a course toward value-based models. The feedback HHS receives on this issue will guide the agency as it releases rule to implement MACRA next spring.

The rule finalized yesterday by ONC, the 2015 Edition of Health IT Certification Criteria, is aimed at those who create systems that providers use. It sets standards that will improve transparency and allow systems to talk to each other, which HHS hopes will create more fairness and competition in the Health IT market.

“The rule is a key step forward in our work with the private sector to realize the shared goal of making actionable electronic health information available when and where it matters most to transform care and improve health for the individual, community, and larger population,” said Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, national coordinator for health IT.