Medicaid Enterprise Systems Conference Recap
Last week, we sent a team of senior consultants and leaders to the Medicaid Enterprise Systems Conference (MESC) in Portland, Oregon. The HealthTech Solutions team maintained our booth, met with clients, demonstrated our new and mature software products, and presented and attended many conference sessions.
MESC is an annual opportunity to bring together state and federal policymakers and program managers, software and project management vendors, and program and technology consultants. Since the emergence of the HITECH programs and associated funding, followed by the eligibility and enrollment changes required for the Affordable Care Act, MESC has become a critical conference for human services technology leaders.
Here are some critical takeaways from the conference:
- Julie Boughn, Director of the Data and Systems Group at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), kicked off the conference by addressing procurement issues. Julie’s request was that states consider a more flexible approach with procurements to let the product development process be more iterative and reflect the evolving needs of the user base, also known as user-centered design. Julie noted that states already doing this are seeing value and better quality.
- CMS emphasized the need to integrate program and policy staff into data-centered IT projects to improve data quality and product usefulness. This is particularly important for projects like T-MSIS and other data aggregation projects where data quality is sometimes unclear or poor.
- There were several presentations on cloud-based server platforms. While there is still some lingering reticence to transition from traditional data centers to a distributed cloud platform, many states and CMS discussed the key benefits of switching to the cloud: overall reduced costs, deployment flexibility, and improved security. States and CMS like the option to purchase surges of compute power to meet peak demand or quickly process large files. This aspect of cloud storage is critical for data analysis on large data sets.
- Many states presented on small projects that have huge growth potential and enable better efficiency in some part of the states’ programs. For example, Indiana’s Data Hub offers researchers public data sets, while also allowing the state increased data analysis insights for policymaking.
- CMS discussed the sunsetting of 90/10 HITECH funds although many projects should still be eligible for this level of federal contribution when they align with MITA principles. One example was electronic clinical quality metrics (eCQM) tools that states need to reimburse under value-based purchasing models. CMS estimates that only about a dozen states currently have such a tool.
- Similarly, CMS also noted the importance of sophisticated provider directories that allow states to fulfill value-based purchasing policy needs such as patient/provider attribution, quality improvement, and practice affiliation.
- Finally, CMS also made it clear that states should plan to transition funding in accordance with the end of the cost allocation waiver, set to expire at the end of this year. We wrote about this issue here, including the implications for state human services enterprise systems.
As usual, it was terrific to see so many of our colleagues from around the country. We were so pleased to be invited to present with CMS, ONC, Georgia, Michigan, and Puerto Rico. We look forward to seeing everyone in Chicago for MESC 2019!