CMS announces plans to enhance care delivery system

CMS announces plans to enhance care delivery system

There is little doubt that health IT has seen major improvements over the years. Electronic health records in particular have changed the way that doctors and patients interact and health data is transported. In 2016 and onward, industry stakeholders, doctors and patients can expect to see this trend continue, with key health care organizations planning to enhance health IT even further. 

CMS stresses importance of health IT for delivery system
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began the new year with an announcement, pledging to make great strides toward a health care delivery system that is more efficient, faster and smarter. As a part of its announcement, the federal agency stressed the importance of health IT to make this happen. 

The announcement was posted to the CMS's official blog and has received a lot of attention. The industry is increasingly becoming more patient-centric and EHRs have played a major role in making this happen. According to Kate Goodrich, M.D., the CMS's director at the Center for Clinical Standards & Quality, health IT has also reduced many of the timely tasks required of physicians, ultimately improving care quality altogether. 

"The use of health information technology, such as electronic health records, and data are critical pieces in building this health care delivery system," explained Goodrich in the announcement. "Importantly, health IT can also support electronic clinical quality measurement, which allows for more timely access to richer clinical data sources, more rapid feedback for quality improvement, and reduced reporting burden for providers."

To ensure that health IT continues on this path, the CMS will be collaborating with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to issue a Request for Information. The RFI asks for public commentary – whether hand delivered, mailed or sent electronically – during a one-month period about the health IT certification and EHR systems implemented for CMS quality reporting initiatives, including the Physician Quality Reporting System and the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program.

RFI aims at quality measures reporting improvements
The CMS's RFI will be requesting feedback concerning the frequency at which health IT should be recertified, the testing of the certified Health IT Modules and the number of clinical quality measures a certified Health IT Module should have to certify. These responses will help the CMS make sure the industry's health IT systems are able to support robust, accurate and reliable quality measures reporting, according to Goodrich.

The RFI enables the CMS and ONC to enhance the effectiveness of health IT certification – the certification and testing of EHRs in particular for the reporting of quality measures – by assessing policy options. The underlying goal is to ease the burden placed on providers, health IT developers and hospitals. 

"We are working diligently to improve the means for information exchange and electronic data sharing across and among providers and health systems, increase opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback, and enhance mechanisms for the capturing of clinical information in EHRs, registries and other systems to assist with quality reporting and care coordination," Goodrich stated.

The RFI feedback will also assist the CMS and ONC by providing them with possible considerations for future standards regarding CMS program quality measure reporting, which is crucial for an efficient health care delivery system.

Other efforts based around the same goal announced so far this year include funding provided by Congress through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. A total of $505 million will be put toward health IT system development, enhancement and modernization from now to 2017. With these efforts underway, the industry can expect to see major improvements in health IT over the coming year.