The legacy of outgoing CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner will be inextricably intertwined with the complex pursuits of nudging the healthcare industry toward more and better use of information technology, and switching to ICD-10 procedural and diagnostic codes.
Her agency, along with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS, oversaw the rollout of the electronic health record incentive-payment program, in which 94% of eligible hospitals and 79% of physicians and other eligible professionals shared in $26.4 billion in payments through November of last year, the latest CMS data show.
But the program also has its troubles. It's facing resistance from some providers over its pace and their problems meeting its more difficult Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements.
“She led during one of the most difficult times, whether that (was) website issues or getting things going with the (federal health insurance) exchange, or Ebola, or trying to transform an industry through health information technology,” said Russell Branzell, CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, an association of hospital chief information officers. “Anybody can lead in easy times. She took her shots.”
That praise notwithstanding, Branzell said the meaningful-use program needs more flexibility. Much work also remains to be done with interoperability standards, including a standardized way to more effectively match patients with their medical records, he said.
“The person who comes behind (Tavenner) is still left with a plate that's very full, and needs to understand they still have significant work to do,” Branzell said.
The person coming behind Tavenner as acting administrator will be Andy Slavitt, who joined the CMS last year to help fix HealthCare.gov.