Home > EHR, meaningful use, Medicare, research > ONC’s 2016 Annual Meeting Misses Opportunity to Pivot to MACRA

ONC’s 2016 Annual Meeting Misses Opportunity to Pivot to MACRA

The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) held its annual meeting in Washington, DC on May 31 to June 2. The emphasis of this year’s conference was on ONC’s efforts as a grantor and convener, rather than the office’s primary role as a regulator and policymaker.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) representatives participated in a couple sessions, but the payor’s presence was noticeably dialed back from that of previous years. With only one dedicated breakout session on CMS’ Alternative Payment Models (APMs) and Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) proposed rule, and a few indirectly related breakout sessions, the hottest healthcare policy topic in years was severely underrepresented. The few sessions that were directly or indirectly related to MACRA implementation were packed with attendees.  

Dr. Karen DeSalvo (National Coordinator for Health IT, ONC) used the plenary session to announce a new certified health IT product transparency tool. The general idea is to empower purchasers of certified health IT with plain language information about a product’s certification status and pricing, per the 2015 Edition certification requirements and the March 2, 2016 proposed rule on enhanced certification program oversight/transparency. The new tool shows if a vendor has “attested” to make future efforts to provide more information to prospective customers per 45 CFR 170.523(k)(2), and provides links (if available) to vendors’ public disclosure pages. Most of these links simply go to vendors’ certification criteria coverage information, and a few go to completely barren placeholder pages. Some vendors provide “price transparency disclosure” information regarding fee timetables, but these often do not list the associated dollar amounts. Only one or two of the vendor resources I found thus far list fee totals in their current price disclosures. So, the transparency tool is severely limited for now but will hopefully improve.

The third and final day of the conference (tomorrow, June 2) will focus on patient/consumer access to data. Dr. DeSalvo will provide closing remarks around 1:30PM Eastern. Interested individuals can view the main plenary portions of the event online.

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