The electronic health record (EHR) Meaningful Use incentive was “a dream program,” American Medical Association president David Barbe, MD, recently told Healthcare IT News.
Problem was, it wasn’t feasible for most health care providers.
“When 80% of doctors have certified EHRs, but only 12% can fully attest, that’s a program problem,” Dr. Barbe said. “That’s not a doctor problem.”
The AMA leader predicted better times ahead with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), Healthcare IT News reported.
Specifically, he foresees simplified reporting, fewer measures, lower penalties, and performance awards.
Dr. Barbe credited the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for working with his and other industry organizations to ease the burden for health care providers to participate in MIPS. The Pick your Pace program, for example, allowed some providers to report on a single quality measure for a single patient, allowing for a significantly gentler transition into the payment system.
CMS also granted MIPS exemptions to small, low-volume practices.
Although he considers MACRA and MAPS more doable than previous models, the transition is still not likely to be easy, Dr. Barbe said.
“As the law is written, in 2019 we need to be up to full implementation of this program,” noted the family physician from Mountain Grove, MO. “This is the biggest shift that we’ve seen in over a generation. So to expect us to ramp up even in a couple of years might not be realistic.”
He said the AMA will continue to work with CMS and Congress to keep a close eye on the situation. If health care providers are still struggling to make the transition, the AMA may recommend further adaptations to program requirements.
“What we are advocating for is that there are practices ready to participate. They have invested in the infrastructure necessary,” explained Dr. Barbe in the article. “And we’d like for them to have the option to opt into the program.”
In the meantime, professional organizations should provide practical support and instruction to interested members. Organizations should also help overwhelmed providers deal with the potential for burnout as they struggle to keep pace with the new requirements.
The road might be bumpy for a while. But with the recent accommodations and more realistic expectations for providers, some of the bigger potholes are getting patched up.
“We have a better framework to go forward,” said Dr. Barbe. “It’s increasingly looking at the value that care brings. That can be in terms of economic savings. It can be in terms of improved quality. It can be in terms of better interaction between physicians and patients.”