As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services moves to value-based payment, providers will ultimately embrace health IT because they need it to provide quality care with better health outcomes, according to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.

“We have committed that we will reach a tipping point by 2018, where by that point in time more than half our payments in Medicare fee-for-service are going to come from some sort of alternative payment model linked to cost and quality,” Slavitt told an audience on Tuesday at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. “I’m more interested in incentives that reward physicians for having coordinated care, than I am in incentives that reward people for using technology. I don’t think we should be in the mode of rewarding people for the means but rewarding them for the outcomes that they want to achieve.”  

At the same time, he argued: “We cannot get there without information being connected.” Slavitt believes that when it comes to health IT interoperability the healthcare industry is making progress. However, he asserts that it is not technology but business practices that are the major barrier to interoperable health information.  

“We all need to look at ourselves—whether we’re a health plan that’s not sharing data, a technology company that’s not building open architectures, or a hospital that’s unwilling to share information with the hospital across the street,” Slavitt said. “At the end of the day, people have to change the way they practice and the way they view information to match it to the way we treat patients.”

Also See: CMS Ramps up Data to Support Value-Based Payments

Last month, CMS released its 2016 Quality Strategy in support of Medicare’s shift from volume-based to value-based care. CMS says the strategy will require “better organization and use of data and health information, including the use of electronic health records and other health IT resources” as well as paying providers to incentivize quality instead of quantity.

Slavitt said it is CMS’ hope that as Medicare transitions to value-based reimbursement “we spend less time as a department talking about how to manage and manipulate technology and technology rules and more time talking to physicians about the things that they actually care about, which are quality care and what we can do to support that—and get away from this stage of micromanaging every step of how someone uses technology.”     

Nonetheless, Slavitt took the opportunity to take a swipe at mobile health and wearable technology.

“Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries by and large are people on fixed incomes or low incomes. And, at the end of the day, what matters to us is: are they going to get an integrated, high quality, highly coordinated care experience?” he commented. “I’m thrilled for all the investments in technology in Fitbits and shareables and wearables, but they generally don’t tend to do that population as much good as just building a simple fundamental infrastructure so that the information that people have can follow them when they get care.”

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