Medicare, Medicaid likely to start requiring tech tool use

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Medicare and Medicaid seem bent on pushing providers into embracing health IT technologies.
Medicare and Medicaid seem bent on pushing providers into embracing health IT technologies.

As sharing of electronic health information becomes standard across all care settings, using technology may become a prerequisite for providers to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to a newly released government strategy document.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released the “Principles and Strategy for Accelerating Health Information Exchange” last month. 

The report follows a request for information that the agencies issued in March.

The “vast majority” of comments recommended the government support electronic health record adoption among long-term care providers that are currently excluded from incentive payments. In addition to direct incentives for LTC providers, some commenters also supported increased regulation to increase EHR use in these settings.

“The majority of commenters favoring regulation and/or revised conditions of participation thought it most appropriate for SNFs, nursing homes, and home health agencies,” according to the report. “For example, several commenters suggested that survey and certification processes could be leveraged as a mechanism to accelerate HIE and adoption of interoperable EHRs in the SNF and nursing home settings.”

Current incentive programs for acute care could be used to spur greater adoption among post-acute providers. This could include things such as requiring information sharing through e-summary of care reports, the report stated.

A similar sentiment about electronic health records was delivered during the August McKnight's Super Tuesday webinar. 

Dan Billings, who is director of health information technology at Pathway Health, said that EHRs soon will be a standard aspect of facility operations. 


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