EHR adoption by home health agencies may soon be 'essential'

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has once again signaled its intent to use its payment rules to spur adoption of electronic health records, this time in its proposed rule for 2016 home health prospective payment system.

Similar to the proposed rule for end stage renal disease facilities issued last month, the home health proposed rule "encourages" the adoption of certified health IT and health information exchange, referencing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's interoperability roadmap and the draft 2015 Interoperability Standards Advisory. However, CMS goes a bit farther in the home health rule, because it also is launching a new home health value based purchasing model, which means that home health agencies may be pushed harder and sooner to adopt EHRs.

The proposed rule indicates this possibility, saying that "effective adoption and use of health information exchange and health IT tools will be essential as these settings seek to improve quality and lower costs through initiatives such as value-based purchasing." Proposed rule (.pdf)