Andy Slavitt: Health IT must 'wrap around' needs of patients, clinicians


The purpose of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, according to Andy Slavitt, is to “return the focus to patient care, not spend time learning a new program.”

Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, spoke to the American Osteopathic Association late last week about all the possibilities the program holds, as well as its many pitfalls--which he said the agency is working to address.

Those include many issues on the technology side, including making sure that IT use wraps “around the needs of patients and clinicians and how they use the healthcare systems, not residing in the silos of health IT companies.”

The speech came about a week and a half after Slavitt said the agency is open to the possibility of delaying the start of MACRA, FierceHealthcare reported. It is set to begin Jan. 1, 2017.

In his speech to the AOA, Slavitt did not say how strong of a chance there is that a new start date will be announced, but he did note that “some of the things” being considered to ensure all physicians are ready for MACRA include “alternative start dates, looking at whether shorter periods could be used, and finding other ways for physicians to get experience with the program before the impact of it really begins.”

Slavitt also outlined some of the comments on MACRA his agency has received regarding IT challenges, and how it is tackling them, saying:

  • The number of quality metrics that need to be reported have been reduced, and CMS has aligned the measures across categories to end repetitive reporting.
  • IT measures that impacted usability are gone and the focus is now on “care provision and collaboration,” and not “clicking.”
  • Electronic health record vendors are now required to open their application programming interfaces to open access to data.

“While we can’t act on every suggestion--your voices as caregivers have been heard and your partnership is having a very real effect on the implementation of this program,” Slavitt said.