The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wants home health agencies to accelerate their use of health information technology. The agency is issuing no mandates yet, but certainly is leaving the door open.

CMS’s encouragement of electronic health records and health information exchange is in a proposed rule for the calendar year 2016 Medicare home health prospective payment system, available here. Among the proposed financial provisions in the rule are reductions of 1.72 percent in CY 2016 and 2017 to the national and standardized 60-day episode payment rate, and a home health value-based purchasing model (value-based reimbursement) that would be imposed on all Medicare-certified home health agencies in nine states to be selected under a proposed methodology.

Also See: Medicare Explains New Home Health Coding Payment Policy

CMS, as it has done in other Medicare payment rules targeting ancillary provider organizations, explains the various initiatives, reports and guidance that can aid home health agencies in starting their journeys toward adopting more health IT.

CMS also makes clear its belief that advanced IT equates to greater success for home health organizations. “While home health providers are not eligible for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, effective adoption and use of health information exchange and health IT tools will be essential as these settings seek to improve quality and lower costs through initiatives such as value-based purchasing.”

Consequently, CMS strongly encourages use of HIT to improve care delivery processes and lower costs, engage patients, support care management across the continuum, and enable quality measures. And the regulator adds this note: “As adoption of certified health IT increases and interoperability standards continue to mature, HHS will seek to reinforce standards through relevant policies and programs.”

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