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CMS Steps Up Efforts to Put Patients Over Paperwork

ACP is fully behind the initiative, which is in line with ACP recommendations

FRIDAY, May 11, 2018 (ACP) -- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is gearing up its efforts to reduce administrative burdens for physicians, and the American College of Physicians (ACP) is helping the CMS define its goals and move the agenda forward.

In March, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced plans to prioritize efforts that promote electronic health record interoperability, make significant updates to the Meaningful Use program, and overhaul the Evaluation and Management guidelines -- all of which will dramatically reduce administrative burdens faced by physicians.

"All three of these points are very much in line with ACP recommendations," said Brooke Rockwern, Associate, Health IT policy for ACP in Washington, DC. The CMS recently launched their "Patients Over Paperwork" initiative which is in line with the similarly titled ACP Patients Before Paper Work initiative that began in 2015.

Moreover, the CMS, in its the latest issue of their Patients Over Paperwork newsletter, reported receiving more than 2,600 comments in response to Requests for Information and identified more than 3,000 mentions of burden. These were outlined under 14 categories, including the auditing and appeals process, documentation requirements, health information technology, workforce issues and telehealth services, among others.

The CMS also released its 2019 Inpatient Prospective Payments System rule, which changes the name of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs (Meaningful Use programs) to the Promoting Interoperability (PI) Programs. "We are encouraged by this rule. It aims to make participation in the newly coined Promoting Interoperability program less burdensome for hospitals and clinicians," she said.

"The proposed updates are a step in the right direction for refocusing the Promoting Interoperability program to decrease duplicative tasks, and the CMS continues to gather feedback on how to make the program more flexible in the future," she said. "The issue we have had with the previous EHR Incentive Programs is that CMS requirements asked physicians to adhere to specific process measures that grade physicians on how well they use the system, as opposed to leveraging the EHR for patient care."

Later this year, the CMS will publish the 2019 Quality Payment Program and Physician Fee Schedule rules, which would have more of a direct impact on primary care physicians. "We are hoping that those proposed rules will be similar in direction to the hospital rule," Rockwern said.

ACP members can and should get involved in these efforts by sharing real-life data on burdensome administrative tasks such as the prior authorization process via the ACP data collection tool. "This is our big ask. We are still looking for a better understanding of what administrative burdens our doctors face on a day-to-day basis," she said. "We are also working on developing state level resources for members to use to promote patients over paperwork in their states, and the more information we get, the more targeted these resources will be."

More information

The CMS Newsletter is here.

The 2019 Inpatient Prospective Payments System rule is here.

ACP's "Putting Patients First by Reducing Administrative Tasks in Health Care" position paper is here.

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