Reporting on patient outcomes is a valuable effort for everyone involved in the healthcare cycle. When information is transparent and well-documented, patients can become more involved in the delivery of care, providers can make better informed decisions and payers can be certain that the final bill is an accurate reflection of the patient’s time with the provider.

Meaningful Use has been an important step toward improving the reporting processes providers use to transmit data to stakeholders, including regulatory bodies. However, many providers believe that Meaningful Use has been more trouble than it’s worth. A new program called Meaningful Measures may be a more streamlined approach to the reporting process.

The end of Meaningful Use?

Regulatory burden is a constant concern for health care providers who exist within an ever-changing environment of new government stipulations, guidelines and requirements. Last year, the American Medical Association made it clear that the nation’s physicians are becoming weary of these extensive regulations. In a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, AMA named Meaningful Use as one of the primary areas of over-regulation.

AMA argued that legacy programs such as Meaningful Use have increased doctors’ workloads without creating significant benefits for patients. In the letter, AMA argued that physicians are expected to spend too much time entering data into an electronic health record platform and not enough time interacting with patients.

In some ways, Meaningful Use engaged physicians, but did little to derive that same level of participation and engagement from patients. In fact, last year Reuters reported on a Swiss study which found that for every hour a doctor spends with patients, he or she spends another five hours on other tasks. During the study period, researchers found that doctors spend 1.7 hours per shift with patients and 5.2 hours using computers.

Although Meaningful Use has provided CMS with mountains of important medical data, the benefits haven’t necessarily trickled down to patients. Within the Quality Payment Program, the Advancing Care Information objectives have likewise been an important step in developing new understandings of what kind of patient information is most valuable to healthcare organizations as well as to regulatory bodies. Clearly, the need for data collection and technology improvements is there – but Meaningful Use hasn’t been the best method of collecting that data and enacting those changes.

Meaningful Use aims to give physicians more face-to-face time with patients.Meaningful Use aims to give physicians more face-to-face time with patients.

What is Meaningful Measures?

In Oct. 2017, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the agency’s intent to introduce a new approach to quality measurement called Meaningful Measures. Verma noted that previous attempts to collect reporting data have been too time consuming for physicians.

“We all know it: Clinicians and hospitals have to report an array of measures to different payers. There are many steps involved in submitting them, taking time away from patients. Moreover, it’s not clear whether all of these measures are actually improving patient care,” Verma stated.

Not only do extensive government regulations prevent healthcare providers from spending more time with patients, but they also cost care organizations $39 billion a year to maintain these administrative activities, according to the AMA.

Meaningful Measures will have six key areas of improvement, each focused on reducing burdens, improving patient care and ensuring accurate data capture. The six measures are:

  • Promote effective communication and coordination of care.
  • Promote effective prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
  • Work with communities to promote best practices of healthy living.
  • Make care affordable.
  • Make care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
  • Strengthen person and family engagement as partners in their care.

The framework for Meaningful Measures is still under development, and CMS is currently looking for feedback from stakeholders as it seeks to improve the program’s structure before it’s fully implemented.

How can providers prepare?

Healthcare providers should consider auditing their current technology to determine how they can better prepare for Meaningful Measures. No matter what EMR platform a provider uses, there are a number of integrated solutions that make collecting and reporting patient data easier and more intuitive.

To learn more about improving processes at your organization, contact Tangible Solutions today.


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