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Meaningful Measures Initiative to Focus on Care Quality Measures

Initiative draws on stakeholder feedback to focus care quality measures on core issues and high-priority areas of care.

CMS Meaningful Measures

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced a new approach to care quality metrics that will only involve evaluating core issues most vital to high-quality care delivery and improved patient outcomes called Meaningful Measures.

Verma announced the new Meaningful Measures initiative at the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) Fall Summit in Arlington, Virginia. The initiative marks an effort by CMS to focus on outcomes-based measures instead of micromanaging care delivery.

“We all know it: Clinicians and hospitals have to report an array of measures to different payers,” said Verma. “There are many steps involved in submitting them, taking time away from patients. Moreover, it’s not clear whether all of these measures are actually improving patient care.” 

The care quality measures initiative is designed to reduce the administrative burden of reporting requirements across all CMS programs. It draws on feedback from LAN, the National Academies of Medicine, the Core Quality Measures Collaborative, and the National Quality Forum. Ultimately, Meaningful Measures will assist in shifting the focus to high-priority areas of care.

“First, this will help address high impact measurement areas that safeguard public health,” said Verma. “For example, the President last week directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. So now, more than ever, we need to focus on measures around prevention and treatment for opioid addiction.”

“Second, Meaningful Measures will help promote more focused quality measure development towards outcomes that are meaningful to patients, families and their providers,” she added.

In addition to the Meaningful Measures initiative, Verma also stated health IT developers working with the CMS Innovation Center will now be focused on promoting greater flexibility and patient engagement.

The innovation center was launched as a way to design and develop a more efficient healthcare system without relying on policymakers. The center is especially focused on innovating solutions that benefit local communities and incorporate the interests of the private market.

Furthermore, CMS plans to implement MACRA in a way that prioritizes minimizing provider burden and cutting costs.

“Our overall vision is to reinvent the agency to put patients first,” she stated. “We want to partner with patients, providers, payers and others to achieve this goal.” 

Verma said CMS will continue to take stakeholder feedback into account when developing and implementing federal policies.

Days earlier, CMS launched its Patients Over Paperwork Initiative. The initiative is designed to serve as a collaborative process for evaluating and streamlining regulations to minimize regulatory burden, increase efficiency, and improve the beneficiary experience.

Thirty-five provider associations and organizations backed the launch of Patients Over Paperwork including the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

The initiative will focus on boosting the amount of time providers spend interacting with patients and reducing the regulatory burden associated with physician burnout.

“We are entering a period of high paced innovation and we need a sustainable system that moves with it,” said Verma.

Last week, AHA released a study showing regulatory burden imposed by federal programs such as meaningful use cost health systems and post-acute care providers nearly $39 billion a year.

Researchers found the average-sized hospital spends $760,000 annually to meet meaningful use administrative requirements.

“There is growing frustration for those on the front lines providing care in a system that often forces them to spend more time pushing paper rather than treating patients,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack in a public statement.

These newest CMS initiatives could help to quell frustrations surrounding the amount of time and money devoted to meeting reporting requirements. 

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