The Washington, D.C.-based DirectTrust, a non-profit trade alliance that advances secure, health information exchange (HIE) via the Direct protocol, has outlined six trends for data exchange and interoperability in 2016, with a meaningful use Stage 3 demise being among them.
Regarding MU Stage 3, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule for back in October, DirectTrust said: “Having accomplished the significant goals of greatly expanded electronic health record (EHR) adoption and baseline interoperability via Direct, but also having alienated almost the entire healthcare provider community by overreaching for the final, Stage 3 version of its regulations, the meaningful use programs will be phased out by the end of 2016.”
It continued, “Providers are particularly worried because the requirements of Stage 3 MU do not align well with MIPS and MACRA, the new rules under which Medicare will pay for value and performance, rather than for volume of care. How this actually happens remains a question mark. It may occur as a result of massive defections by providers willing to face fee schedule penalties rather than spend more resources on health IT that doesn’t add value to their practices and hospitals. Or, it may happen as a result of Congressional action, or because CMS and ONC see the hand-writing on the wall and scale down and bow out gracefully.”
Indeed, there have been several calls from lawmakers and the healthcare industry to, at the very least, pause Stage 3 of the program for now. Perhaps most notably, about a month ago, more than 100 medical associations sent letters to members of the Senate and the House urging lawmakers to intervene with Stage 3. If this doesn’t happen, the groups said at the time, physicians would likely abandon the program completely.
Among the other trends DirectTrust predicted for 2016 were:
- Patients and consumers will become participants in the electronic exchange of health data
- ‘Freed’ health data will drive yet-to-be imagined enrichments in personal and professional uses
- Federal and state agencies will move toward greater interoperability
- Security, privacy, and identity will rule
- Reliance on Direct exchange for secure, interoperable transfers of patient health information between and among providers for the purposes of care coordination will continue to grow
“In the world of electronic health information exchange, we’re on track for another year of momentous forward movement in increased adoption by providers and greater interoperability between federal and state agencies with private-sector providers. We’ll also see, finally, patient and consumer participation in the use of electronic health information exchange,” Dr. David Kibbe, M.D., president and CEO of Direct Trust, said in a press release statement.
The trends can be read in their entirety here.