- Over 90 percent of eligible clinicians participated in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) during the first year of the Quality Payment Program (QPP), according to a recent announcement from CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
CMS set a goal to achieve 90 percent participation among eligible clinicians, ultimately exceeding that goal by 1 percent.
“Remarkably, the submission rates for Accountable Care Organizations and clinicians in rural practices were at 98 percent and 94 percent, respectively,” stated Verma. “What makes these numbers most exciting is the concerted efforts by clinicians, professional associations, and many others to ensure high quality care and improved outcomes for patients.”
While the high rate of participation in the first year of QPP signals that the program was somewhat successful, Verma restated the federal agency’s commitment to reducing administrative burden on providers in future years.
CMS will primarily work to reduce regulatory burden through its Patients Over Paperwork initiative, which serves as a collaborative process for evaluating and streamlining regulations to minimize burden, increase clinical efficiency, and improve the beneficiary experience.
As part of the initiative, CMS staff have been visiting healthcare facilities and meeting providers to gain perspective on the daily effects and challenges of administrative burden.
“At the same time, we continue to put patients first by protecting the safety of our beneficiaries and strengthening the quality of healthcare they receive,” Verma said.
“For example, we reviewed many of the MIPS requirements and developed policies for 2018 that continue to reduce burden, add flexibility, and help clinicians spend less time on unnecessary requirements and more time with patients,” she continued.
CMS has so far reduced the number of clinicians required to participate in MIPS and added bonus points for clinicians in small practices, treating complex patients, or utilizing ONC 2015 Edition Certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to fulfill reporting requirements.
Additionally, CMS increased opportunities for clinicians to earn positive payment adjustments and recommitted to offering free technical assistance to eligible clinicians participating in the program. According to CMS, its free technical assistance received a 99.8 percent customer satisfaction rating by over 200,000 clinicians and practice managers.
“Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 we have additional authority to continue our gradual implementation of certain requirements for three more years to further reduce burden in areas of MIPS,” stated Verma.
Verma also noted CMS is leveraging the Meaningful Measures initiative to streamline and reduce the number of quality measures providers must report on so that clinicians can spend more time focused on patient care delivery.
The care quality measures initiative draws on feedback from the Learning and Action Network (LAN), the National Academies of Medicine, the Core Quality Measures Collaborative, and the National Quality Forum.
Measures part of MIPS are intended to be exclusively outcomes-based rather than process-based.
“While we’re proud of what has been accomplished, there is more work to be done,” stated Verma.
“CMS remains committed to listening to the healthcare community and exploring ways to reduce clinician burden, strengthen quality, introduce new payment models, develop meaningful measures including for patient safety, and promote interoperability,” she concluded.
The high level of MIPS participation is a positive development for CMS, which has been working to reduce regulatory burden throughout 2018.
In a webcast with AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack at the start of the year, Verma stated regulatory relief would be one of the federal agency’s top goals in 2018.
Initiatives such as Patients Over Paperwork and Meaningful Measures will help to further this aim as the healthcare industry transitions away from fee-for-service to a value based care system.