Leading voices in the healthcare community awaited the passing of the “doc fix” bill in the Senate last Tuesday, which repealed the sustainable growth rate formula. For almost two decades, this formula has slowed Medicare reimbursement cuts for medical professionals. The newest legislation, which has the more formal title of “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015,” promises to streamline and modernize the way in which Medicare pays U.S. doctors.

However, the doc fix bill will also have overarching effects on the health IT community. Becker’s Hospital Review recently examined some of the key takeaways of the legislation and broke down major ways the bill affects the health IT sector:

1. Interoperability is a major focus: In fact, the bill actually outlines interoperable systems as “a national objective” and wants to make it a nationwide goal through tech advancements by the end of 2018. If this goal is not met, the HHS Secretary has one year to tell Congressional leaders why there are roadblocks to interoperability, as well as ways the private and public sectors can work together to achieve it.

2. Medicare data will undergo analytics: For quality control, the legislation addressed the need for Medicare data access, as this could allow to government to see what is working with claims data under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Qualified Entity Program.

3. A government telehealth study will be underway: The doc fix bill also instructs the comptroller general to conduct research on remote patient care through Medicare technologies, as well as other telehealth services.

4. Value-based care was also addressed: The HHS Secretary was instructed to develop a merit-based incentive payment system that rewards eligible medical professionals based on performance.

5. Information sharing is opened in the Social Security Act: An amendment was included in the doc fix bill that made data sharing more accessible. Moving forward, a meaningful user is one who not only demonstrates objectives in EHR implementation, but also does not restrict or limit interoperable systems.

It’s clear from this piece of legislation that interoperability will take a major step forward in the near future, as it appears Congress as well as the private and public sectors are working together to make value-based care and data sharing a reality.

The sharing of clinical images through HIEs can aid this effort, as they can allow doctors to share images with others so that duplicate scans are avoided. Clinical archiving systems can make this possible. In order to be successful at sharing clinical images, healthcare organizations will need the right technology, like a VNA, for example.


News brought to you by TeraMedica, Inc., leaders in healthcare enterprise imaging (VNA) solutions.