If Seema Verma, President Trump’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is self-assured by the Senate, she’ll seek to modernize the programs of CMS to better deal the changing requirements of the people the agency serves, leveraging innovation and technology to drive coordinated, cost-effective care. The pick of Trump to lead CMS has raised concerns over electronic health records (EHRs).
“Doctors are growingly frustrated by the number of expensive and time-consuming burdens,” Verma testified February 16 before the Senate Finance Committee. “We should support doctors in giving high-quality care to their sufferers and ensuring that rules and regulations of CMS do not drive doctors and providers from serving the people or beneficiaries.”
At the Senate confirmation hearing, Verma called out the need to assist decrease regulatory burdens on rural and other healthcare providers, involving electronic health records requirements under the Meaningful Use program.
“Electronic health records I consider have enormous promise. I think it is useful for physicians in terms of prompts, in terms of doing data and evaluation,” she stated. “But, it has been a rocky start.”
In accordance to Verma, EHR interoperability sustains to be a daunting issue for the industry as barriers continues to stop the sharing of electronic health information.
“If we are going to have electronic health records (EHRs), then we should make certain that they fulfill their promise,” she claimed. “So, if somebody goes to the emergency room (ER)—even if they are in a different hospital or different provider system—the doctors can pull up the data.”
Additionally, Verma pointed out that clinicians are “still getting used to” using electronic health records. She recounted being in her doctor’s office, and they have been “staring at their computer rather than looking at me as I tell them about my healthcare problems.”
In specific, she said that rural providers have “unique and special” challenges, involving more restricted resources than larger urban providers in adopting and victoriously implementing health IT.
“Because they have those multiple challenges and problems, it is difficult for them when there are many rules and regulations coming down from the federal government,” Verma claimed. “I think we’ve to be very careful with our rural providers to make sure that we are not putting extra burdens on them that really impact accessibility to care and quality of care.”
She further added that CMS needs to support rural providers “through the process” and “make definite that they have the suitable technical assistance.”
In related news, CMS on the day of February 17 declared that the agency awarded about $20 million to eleven organizations for the first year of a 5-year program to provide on-the-ground training and education about the new Quality Payment Program (QPP) for clinicians in individual or small group practices of fifteen clinicians or fewer.
“The selected agencies will provide customized technical assistance to clinicians and practices to help them be successful in the Quality Payment Program (QPP),” in accordance to the CMS announcement. “For instance, clinicians will get help choosing and reporting on quality measures, as well as guidance with all aspects of the program, involving supporting change management and strategic planning and assessing and optimizing health IT.”
The agency stated that it intends to invest up to an additional $80 million over the remaining 4 years.
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