By Elaine Christie, Author

What’s in a name? With a patients-first, EHR-oriented mindset, CMS has shuttered Meaningful Use and renamed the program “Promoting Interoperability.”

The new name — announced when CMS unveiled its 2019 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule — ushers in a new era that emphasizes the exchange of health information between providers and patients. It also incentivizes providers to make it easier for patients to obtain their medical records electronically.

The changes may reduce administrative burden in several areas and increase time providing care to patients. For example, CMS says the proposed rule would reduce the number of hours hospitals spend on paperwork by well over 2 million hours and remove outdated and redundant regulations.

The proposals would reduce the number of measures acute care hospitals are required to report across the five quality and value-based purchasing programs. The rule eliminates 19 measures and “de-duplicates” an additional 21 measures.

As it relates to the Two-Midnight Rule, CMS proposes eliminating its requirement that a written inpatient admission order be present in the medical record as a specific condition of Medicare Part A payment, among other changes. CMS also proposes removing the requirement that Part A certification statements detail where in the medical record the required information can be found.

CMS says the proposals will make the program more flexible.

“We envision a system that rewards value over volume and where patients reap the benefits through more choices and better health outcomes. [HHS] Secretary [Alex] Azar has made such a value-based transformation in our healthcare system a top priority for HHS, and CMS is taking important, concrete steps toward achieving it,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. (The statement can be found at: https://go.cms.gov/2HVES9B.)

The American Hospital Association (AHA) praised CMS for reducing administrative complexity and allowing providers to spend more time on patients, not paperwork.

“We are encouraged that this year’s rule begins to implement the administration’s ‘meaningful measures’ initiative, a streamlined approach to quality measurement that can help ensure programs are focused on those core issues that are most critical to providing high-quality care and improving patient outcomes,” said Tom Nickels, AHA’s executive vice president of government relations, in a statement.

AHA also agrees with the more flexible, performance-based approach to determine whether a hospital has met meaningful use requirements.

The 2019 Medicare IPPS proposed rule applies to about 3,300 acute care hospitals and 420 long-term care hospitals. The rule will take effect Oct. 1, 2018.