The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed changes to empower patients through better access to hospital price information, improve patients’ access to their electronic health records, and make it easier for providers to spend time with their patients.
The proposed rule issued proposes updates to Medicare payment policies and rates under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS).
The policies in the IPPS and LTCH PPS proposed rule would further advance the agency’s priority of creating a patient-driven healthcare system by achieving greater price transparency and interoperability—essential components of value-based care—while also significantly reducing the burden for hospitals so they can operate with better flexibility, and patients have the information they need to become active healthcare consumers.
While hospitals are already required under guidelines developed by CMS to either make publicly available a list of their standard charges, or their policies for allowing the public to view a list of those charges upon request, CMS is updating its guidelines to specifically require that hospitals post this information.
The agency is also seeking comment on what price transparency information stakeholders would find most useful and how best to help hospitals create patient-friendly interfaces to make it easier for consumers to access relevant healthcare data so they can more readily compare providers.
The proposed policies begin implementing core pieces of the governmentwide MyHealthEData initiative through several steps to strengthen interoperability or the sharing of healthcare data between providers.
Specifically, CMS is proposing to overhaul the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs (also known as the “Meaningful Use” program) to:
- make the program more flexible and less burdensome,
- emphasize measures that require the exchange of health information between providers and patients, and
- incentivize providers to make it easier for patients to obtain their medical records electronically.
To better reflect this new focus, CMS is re-naming the Meaningful Use program “Promoting Interoperability.”
In addition, the proposed rule reiterates the requirement for providers to use the 2015 Edition of certified electronic health record technology in 2019 as part of demonstrating meaningful use to qualify for incentive payments and avoid reductions to Medicare payments. This updated technology includes the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), which have the potential to improve the flow of information between providers and patients.
Patients could collect their health information from multiple providers and potentially incorporate all of their health information into a single portal, application, program, or other software. This can support a patient’s ability to share their information with another member of their care team or with a new doctor, which can reduce duplication and provide continuity of care.