CMS proposed rule 'encourages' EHR adoption for end stage renal disease facilities

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continues to prod providers into adopting electronic health records and electronic data sharing, this time in its proposed 2016 payment rule for end stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities.

The rule, released June 26, doesn't yet require ESRD facilities to adopt EHRs. However, toward the end of the proposed rule, HHS puts facilities on notice that it is moving all providers in that direction.

"HHS believes that all individuals, their families, their healthcare and social service providers, and payers should have consistent and timely access to health information in a standardized format that can be securely exchanged between the patient, providers, and others involved in the individual's care," the proposed rule states. "Health IT that facilitates the secure, efficient and effective sharing and use of health-related information when and where it is needed is an important tool for settings across the continuum of care, including ESRD facilities."

The rule references the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's interoperability roadmap and the draft version of its 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory. The proposal also alerts ESRD facilities that their EHR adoption may be expected in the future.  

"We encourage stakeholders to utilize health information exchange and certified health IT to effectively and efficiently help providers improve internal care delivery practices, support management of care across the continuum, enable the reporting of electronically specified clinical quality measures, and improve efficiencies and reduce unnecessary costs," CMS states. "As adoption of certified health IT increases and interoperability standards continue to mature, HHS will seek to reinforce standards through relevant policies and programs."

CMS explains further in its fact sheet about the rule that it's one of "several" for 2016 "that reflect a broader Administration-wide strategy to deliver better care at lower cost by finding better ways to deliver care, pay providers, and use information." 

The proposed skilled nursing facilities payment rule, released in April, also encourages those facilities to adopt EHRs and share information, using language very similar to that in the ESRD rule. Several new payment initiatives already require EHR adoption and Meaningful Use participation despite indications that physician adoption appears to have stabilized.

Comments on the rule are due by Aug. 25.

To learn more:
- read the proposed ESRD rule (.pdf)
- here's the fact sheet

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