August Items

August 24, 2016  |  Category: Health ITRegulatory Updates

Between summer vacations and the Summer Olympics, here are a few healthcare IT items that registered this month:

  • The first year of ICD-10 ends Sept. 30, and with it ends the grace period for coding specificity. As reported in Healthcare Informatics, CMS said this week that it “will not extend ICD-10 flexibilities beyond October 1, 2016. There will be no additional flexibility guidance.” The agency also said that Medicare will not phase in the requirement to code to the highest level of specificity. In other words, provider organizations need to have their ICD-10 coding act completely together or be prepared to suffer financial consequences. It will be interesting to see how physicians cope with the added pressure to get their diagnoses coded completely accurately, and how much extra time they expend in that effort.
  • A JAMA op-ed, which suggested that backing away from physician EHR use could help providers deliver better care by focusing more on the patient, has generated a lot of buzz. “De-implementing the EHR could actively enhance care in many clinical scenarios,” the authors wrote. Hmmm, and bringing back the horse and buggy could reduce the frequency of auto accidents. Consider the unintended consequences, however: it would surely increase the demand for (and cost of) street sweeping. To be fair, the op-ed did make some valid points. “There is building resentment against the shackles of the present EHR; every additional click inflicts a nick on physicians’ morale,” the authors concluded. “Better medical record systems are needed that are dissociated from billing, intuitive and helpful, and allow physicians to be fully present with their patients.” Amen.
  • The MACRA/MIPS train keeps rolling toward a Jan. 1, 2017 arrival date, but has the track been completed? According to a story in HealthLeaders, “There is a disconnect between the MIPS / MACRA push for physicians and what is happening on the hospital side of the equation.”  Author Scott Mace quoted the CEO of CHIME, Russ Branzell, as saying, “We have a system that gave leniencies to physicians, while at the same time not giving the same leniencies for the hospital-based side. Yes, there are [a lot of] physicians that still work in a private practice setting, but wouldn’t you want a harmonization of the entire system to be out there? We are still a long way from a universal set of clear, objective, clinical-based quality measures that we all agree on that should be used.”

If these are the summer doldrums, hold onto your hat after Labor Day.

This post was written by PatientKeeper's TransforMED blogging team.