CHIME board chair calls for less rigid MU program

Organization wants to eliminate requirement that program criteria become increasingly stringent, says Cletis Earle.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives remains “passionate” about reducing the burdens of the Meaningful Use program’s requirements on providers, according to Cletis Earle, the 2018 chair of the CHIME Board of Trustees.

“In all fairness, Meaningful Use had its value in helping to spearhead and promote electronic health records throughout the country in a Herculean fashion,” says Earle, who is vice president and CIO at Kaleida Health in Buffalo, N.Y., and has been a member of CHIME since 2006.

At the same time, he contends that the EHR Incentive Program has “run its course” due to its “inconsistent effort” to facilitate an “advanced level of care” that’s desperately needed in healthcare. Instead, Earle believes that Meaningful Use has served to “move providers away from taking care of patients to just basically filling in the dots when it comes to electronic health records, and that’s been problematic.”

CHIME would like to see the Meaningful Use program become a less rigid and progressive framework, he adds, with MU’s restructuring into the Advancing Care Information (ACI) performance category as part of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for the purposes of calculating payment to eligible clinicians.

“With MACRA and MIPS, a lot of the quality measures have exceedingly increased and it’s created a major challenge for CIOs as a whole,” Earle says. “It’s very difficult for EHR vendors to keep up with the latest and greatest requirements to remain updated regarding their ability to report on various measures.”

Last July, Earle testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health—as chair-elect of the CHIME Board of Trustees—that as CIOs strive to meet CMS program deadlines they aren’t able to pursue workflow enhancements with their EHRs or other health IT tools that would actually improve health outcomes. “Our EHR vendors are so focused on meeting the specification and certifications that they don’t have the bandwidth to work with us on functionalities that our clinicians actually request,” he told lawmakers.

To help alleviate the problem, CHIME supports a bill (H.R. 3120), introduced by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), which seeks to reduce the volume of future EHR-related significant hardship requests.

Also See: Providers hard-pressed to meet MU timelines, rely on hardship exemptions

Specifically, H.R. 3120 would eliminate a requirement in the HITECH Act that the Secretary of Health and Human Services make the Meaningful Use criteria more stringent for physicians and hospitals over time.

This past fall, the Subcommittee on Health met in open markup session and forwarded the bill—without amendment—to the full Committee on Energy and Commerce, which in turn ordered H.R. 3120 favorably reported to the House of Representatives.

A two-year bipartisan budget deal announced by Senate leaders on Wednesday included H.R. 3120. A short-term House funding bill approved earlier this week also included the legislative language.

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