Meaningful Use: Is It Really Going Away or Just Hiding?

Leigh Page


April 20, 2016

In This Article

Will Things Become Easier for Doctors?

7. What will happen to the stages of MU?

Dr Wachter says that whereas stage 1, which focused on capturing patient data, was basically a success, stages 2 and 3 have been an overreach that have hindered practices more than they have helped them. He notes that even former supporters of MU have taken to calling the program "meaningless abuse."

The fate of the stages is unclear. CMS officials have not yet said what happens to the three stages of MU, which will still be playing out when the MIPS program starts. The fate of the MU stages will be revealed in the proposed rule that comes out later this spring.

Stage 2 began in 2014, became a requirement in 2015, and continues through 2017. The final rule for stage 3 was released in October; this stage doesn't get under way until the MIPS program starts, and critics are waiting to see whether it will be substantially rehauled in the upcoming MIPS rules, or perhaps even set aside. When MIPS starts in 2017, stage 3 will just be getting off the ground, and it is first required in 2018.

In response to the complaints, CMS has made some changes to stages 2 and 3, but Dr Wachter is hoping for a complete overhaul. Rather than "continuing to push highly prescriptive standards that get in the way of innovation," he thinks stage 3 should simply focus on interoperability.

8. Will doctors have any input into the new program?

As CMS officials tell it, they're extremely interested in what physicians have to say about MU. Now that they are about to totally revamp the program, they are reaching out to physicians and are even organizing focus groups of them.

Goodrich says that the agency has been holding focus groups with "front-line" physicians. "We're not just listening; we're hearing and absorbing," she says.

She repeats back what she has learned. "For both individual physicians and groups," Goodrich says, "the general themes are the same: The program is too burdensome and takes time away from taking care of patients. MU has not been meaningful to them, because it tends to be one size fits all. They want flexibility. They want to tailor what they report to us, based on their individual practice needs."

Slavitt, in his comments this January at the J.P. Morgan conference, said CMS' listening process with doctors started late last year. Since then, "We have been working side by side with physician organizations across many communities," he said, "and have listened to the needs and concerns of many. We will be putting out the details on this next stage over the next few months."


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