- Eligible clinicians participating in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) will be required to use 2015 Edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT) beginning in the 2019 performance period, according to the 2019 Quality Payment Program (QPP) final rule.
CMS released the QPP final rule along with the final 2019 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) on November 1.
The federal agency has updated quality measures included in Year 3 of QPP to only include those most crucial for enabling improvements in patient health outcomes in accordance with the CMS Meaningful Measures initiative.
The final rule also maintains an emphasis on improving interoperability and reducing administrative burden on providers. Overall, the rule is expected to save clinicians $87 million in reduced administrative burden costs in the next year and $843 million over the next decade.
“The historic reforms CMS finalized today move us closer to a healthcare system that delivers better care for Americans at lower cost,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
“Among other advances, improving how CMS pays for drugs and for physician visits will help deliver on two HHS priorities: bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and creating a value-based healthcare system that empowers patients and providers,” Azar added.
In addition to CMS efforts to implement the aims of the Meaningful Measures initiative, the federal agency also established an automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy for MIPS eligible clinicians.
The policy functions as a hardship exception to ensure eligible clinicians can avoid payment penalties if they fail to meet reporting requirements as a result of natural disasters or other events.
“Today’s rule finalizes dramatic improvements for clinicians and patients and reflects extensive input from the medical community,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Addressing clinician burnout is critical to keeping doctors in the workforce to meet the growing needs of America’s seniors.”
“Today’s rule offers immediate relief from onerous requirements that contribute to burnout in the medical profession and detract from patient care,” continued Verma. “It also delays even more significant changes to give clinicians the time they need for implementation and provides time for us to continue to work with the medical community on this effort.”
Policies in QPP also overhaul EHR reporting requirements to focus primarily on improving interoperability. The new Promoting Interoperability performance category will replace the advancing care information performance category from Year 2 of QPP.
Other finalized changes require eligible clinicians to use 2015 Edition CEHRT, allow patients to access their own data, and engage in health data exchange with other providers.
CMS also finalized an opt-in policy that will allow clinicians seeing a low volume of Medicare patients to participate in MIPS if they choose to do so.
These requirements will go into effect beginning in the 2019 MIPS performance period.