"MU" Will Soon Be "MIPS": Why and What Do You Need to Know?

In response to the great recession of 2008, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly referred to as The Stimulus or The Recovery Act.[1] This act injected nearly $800 billion of federal funds into a myriad of markets across all sectors of our economy. $20 billion of the $800 billion was earmarked for the healthcare sector, which included funds to purchase Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Thus, the incentive program known as “Meaningful Use” (MU) was born. The primary objective was to create jobs. While the incentive program was mostly unsuccessful on a large scale, some will argue it saved the country from going deeper into a recession. Some markets, such as health care IT, saw an explosion of new jobs as a result of this act. This success was in part due to a flood of entrepreneurs and investors from the private sector all rushing in to get their share of the $20 billion designated for healthcare.

The EHR market went from just a handful of vendors, to over 800 solutions overnight. While this program was healthy for job creations, it put many products into the market that were not sustainable. Furthermore, because the incentive money was temporary and tied to deadlines, many vendors had to rush their development and ended up putting defective products into the market making many buyers frustrated and questioning the validity of EHRs. Seven years later, EHRs have improved dramatically. The vast majority of doctors and hospitals are now digitized, but they are still not connected with other care givers. This makes it difficult to realize the primary goal of lowering cost and improving outcome through the use of an EHR. The incentive program was also built on a pass/fail system, leaving some providers at risk for suffering penalties for requirements outside of their control. As a result, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) changed the incentives from one size fits all to a more user-centered environment, which better supports physicians and clinicians, and subsequently rewards providers for quality outcomes they are able to achieve through their individual practice needs and situations.

CMS is also trying to address the lack of connectivity by unlocking electronic health information through open application programming interfaces (API). APIs will allow new apps, analytic tools, and plug-ins to connect more easily. This change will allow data to be securely accessed and directed where and when the data is needed to support patient care.The goal of CMS is to support the vision of a simpler, more connected, less burdensome incentive program compared to the existing Medicare Meaningful Use requirements. Specifically, it will allow physicians and other clinicians to select the measures that reflect how technology best suits their practice. Read the full list of the differences included in this new proposal, along with more details on how it would work.

To learn more about the change from Meaningful Use to Merit-Based Incentives Payment System (MIPS) and how Coker Group could be of assistance, contact us today by calling 678-832-2021.

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