CMS planning to overhaul EHR incentive programs, rolls out MyHealthEData to put patients in control of their health information

CMS is launching a new initiative called MyHealthEData aimed at increasing patient access to their own health records and is planning to revamp its EHR incentive programs, the agency announced at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference March 6.

The agency is planning to overhaul its EHR incentive programs and instead, focus the programs on interoperability. CMS wants to revise the programs so they reduce the time and compliance costs associated with meeting the program's requirements. CMS will continue to work with ONC to improve clinician EHR use.

It's not clear which specific EHR incentive programs will be redesigned, but one bill, signed into law as part of the February funding package, signals meaningful use is due for review. The bill would make the meaningful use program easier for participating physicians by not mandating the HHS secretary create more stringent reporting requirements over time.

CMS is also looking to enter the patient data arena. Last year, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to promote healthcare choice and competition in the U.S. Now, the administration is seeking a system that helps patients control their data and take it with them to their various healthcare providers.

CMS said MyHealthEData will enable patients to both electronically receive a copy of their health record and share their data with whomever. This will help them find providers and services that best meet their needs and make more informed decisions about their healthcare. The government-wide MyHealthEData initiative is led by the White House Office of American Innovation with help from HHS' CMS, ONC, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  

"We applaud the freeing of CMS data for patients, and we echo CMS's sentiment that the deep burden afflicted on healthcare that is associated with documentation must be alleviated," athenahealth's Chief Product Officer Kyle Armbrester told Becker's Hospital Review. "While we wish CMS would also take this opportunity to recognize and work with ONC on the burden that the EHR certification program places on users of those products, we recognize CMS's objective as being well-meaning. No one entity can free healthcare from its many burdens and deep-rooted friction — it will take all players to wick away the non-essentials associated with workflows, information access and technology."

As another way to increase data access and sharing, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced Medicare's Blue Button 2.0. The new tool will allow patients to access and share their healthcare information, previous prescriptions, treatments and procedures with a new physician, leading to fewer duplicative tests and procedures. The tool also helps patients in the traditional Medicare program input their claims data to the secure applications, providers, services and research programs of their choosing.

Ms. Verma called on healthcare insurers to follow suit and help patients digitally access their claims data.

"CMS serves more than 130 million beneficiaries through our programs, which means we are uniquely positioned to transform how important healthcare data is shared between patients and their doctors," Ms. Verma said during her address at HIMSS. "Today, we are calling on private health plans to join us in sharing their data with patients because enabling patients to control their Medicare data so that they can quickly obtain and share it is critical to creating more patient empowerment."

More articles on EHRs:
EHR vendors stock report: Week of Feb. 26 - March 2
Cerner: 5 updates on DOD's EHR rollout
64% of providers say EHRs failed to deliver many critical value-based care tools: 10 survey insights

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