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In keeping with the current administration’s deregulation agenda, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been on mission to reduce regulatory burden on providers.

Last year, HHS telegraphed its mission to make regulations less burdensome in its draft document, Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs. The document was in large part based on feedback from a range of stakeholders, including clinicians expressing concerns about the “EHR burden”, claiming it “negatively affects the end user and ultimately the care delivery experience.” 

Surveys have consistently recorded provider frustration with EHRs. While most docs say they’d never go back to the old, inefficient days of paper charts and orders, they also say EHR vendors need to focus more on usability and intuitiveness. 

CMS also heard loud complaints from providers about the meaningful use program, mostly having to do with inflexible requirements having little to do with patient care. At the same time, they heard from other stakeholders frustrated that an estimated $37 billion in spending on meaningful use had not established sufficient interoperability between health IT systems.   

Relieving provider burden 

Over the past two years, CMS responded to interoperability concerns by rolling out rebranded Promoting Interoperability (PI) programs for MIPS and Medicaid—or as I like to call these programs, "The Artist Formerly Known as Meaningful Use." Under the banner of relieving provider burden, CMS made changes to the objectives, measures, and scoring of these programs to focus them more squarely on interoperability and provider greater flexibility for participants. 

This year, both CMS and ONC unveiled the first set of proposed interoperability rules required under the 21st Century Cures Act, along with significant changes to MIPS intended to move the program closer to value-based reimbursement. Other proposed regulations include sweeping changes intended to simplify the Evaluation and Management (E&M) coding system. 

What to expect in 2020

Providers can anticipate a busy regulatory calendar next year, as HHS works on moving Medicare and Medicaid toward value-based care and fulfills other statutory obligations enacted by Congress. That means healthcare regulations aren’t going away. Whether or not this reduces physician burden, healthcare providers and organizations will need to keep up with a steady stream of new bills, laws, proposed rules, and final regulations. 

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Andy Riedel
Senior Director, Solutions