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ONC sets MACRA interoperability measures

Responding to Congress’ call last year to define health IT interoperability measures that Medicare providers must meet to receive reimbursement under new value-based models, ONC has published the measures.The new measures are now part of MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) Reauthorization Act.

The measures, as detailed in an ONC blog post, are:

  • “Measure 1: Proportion of health care providers who are electronically engaging in the following core domains of interoperable exchange of health information: sending; receiving; finding (querying); and integrating information received from outside sources
  • Measure 2: Proportion of health care providers who report using the information they electronically receive from outside providers and sources for clinical decision-making.”

The blog post’s authors, Seth Pazinski and Taisha Searcy, of the ONC Office of Planning, Evaluation and Analysis, elaborated that the measures fulfill many commenters’ requests that they not add to providers’ reporting burdens, but rather come from existing national surveys of hospital and office-based physicians.

The surveys are the American Hospital Association’s Information Technology Supplement Survey and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics’ annual National Electronic Health Record Survey of office-based physicians. The surveys measure not only interoperability but also how physicians use other EHR functions in their daily practice.

The ONC officials also noted that commenters, in addition to being concerned about burdensome reporting, also wanted the measures’ scope broadened to include providers not eligible for the meaningful use program for EHRs, such as behavioral health providers.

Commenters also raised concerns about  recognizing the complexity of measuring interoperability.

“Although the MACRA requirement for measuring interoperability largely focuses on ‘meaningful users,’ we are committed to advancing interoperability of health information more broadly,” the ONC officials wrote. “We will be expanding our measurement efforts to include populations across the care continuum in the near-term, as well as an increased focus on outcomes in the longer-term.”

Read the official statutory language here.