March 08, 2018

Verma Stresses Regulatory Reforms in HIMSS Address

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), emphasized the agency’s efforts to reduce IT-related regulatory burdens and simplify documentation and reporting requirements in an address at the March 6 opening session of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference.

Verma’s introduction by Senior Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner amplified the Trump Administration’s intense interest in regulatory reduction and reform for all federal agencies.

One such effort, the Patients over Paperwork Initiative, serves as CMS’ implementation of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) burden reduction mandate from the 21st Century Cures Act. CMS intends to reduce the number of measures and thresholds in the EHR Incentive Program and the Quality Payment Program (QPP). CMS will also emphasize documentation simplification, automation of prior authorization and the availability of open application program interfaces (APIs) for data submission under QPP and other CMS programs. Verma promised to focus all future EHR-related CMS requirements on interoperability rather than documentation.

Verma indicated another effort, the MyHealthEData Initiative, will focus on giving patients direct ownership over access and exchange of their health information. She said some other 21st Century Cures mandates, such as information-blocking prohibitions, would generally fall under this category. Blue Button 2.0 is also included to allow the development of health data-enabled dashboards and other exchange management interfaces for patients.

The CMS administrator briefly mentioned Sync For Science, an ongoing effort involving several federal agencies, investigators and EHR vendors focused on enabling exchange of patients’ basic health data for research purposes using EHR technology. The effort is intended to avoid resource-intensive and duplicative capture and cleanup of this information. Sync For Science technology is one of several methods leveraged by the NIH All of Us program to collect participants’ data efficiently and directly from provider EHRs.

Verma promised CMS will provide Medicare claims data to stakeholders electronically and explore ways to reduce duplicative and unnecessary testing through information exchange.