It’s time to turn the tables on technology, end meaningful use

Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt pointed to the end of meaningful use as we know it, laying out an aggressive timeline to replace the program at a J.P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Acknowledging the physician burden, Slavitt said, “It’s time to make health care technology serve beneficiaries and the physicians who serve them.” Instead of pushing for technology, “We have to get the hearts and minds of physicians back.”

Implementing the meaningful use program, an electronic health records (EHR) mandate and incentive program, cost a significant amount for many health care providers. It was meant to use certified EHR technology to improve the quality of care, engage patients and family, and improve care coordination, while maintaining privacy and the security of patient health information. After taking the physician burden and frustration levels into account, Slavitt decided now is the time to change focus.

Slavitt stated, “The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better . . . we have listened to the needs and concerns of many.”

In a series of tweets the same day, Slavitt (@aslavitt) listed his four themes guiding implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) (P.L. 114-10) on technology in a post-meaningful use world. They are:

  • move away from rewarding use of technology towards outcomes;
  • allow doctors to customize goals around their practices so use-centered technology can be developed;
  • level the playing field with open application programming interfaces to allow apps, analytic tools, plug-ins, and to reduce EHR lock; and
  • harness interoperability that builds on use cases from physicians and patients and fights data blocking.

Slavitt intends to reveal more of his plans on March 25, 2016. He noted that future plans and details will focus on patient outcomes instead of technology use.