Posts Tagged ‘MIPS’

CMS Quality Payment Program: Clinicians Should Expect MIPS Participation Status Letter This Month

May 4th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

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CMS has specified two key criteria for MIPS participation.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is reviewing claims and letting practices know which clinicians need to take part in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), according to information on MLNConnects, the CMS Medical Learning Network.

MIPS is an important part of the new Quality Payment Program (QPP). In late April through May, clinicians will get a letter from their Medicare administrative contractor that processes Medicare Part B claims, providing the participation status of each MIPS clinician associated with their Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

Clinicians should participate in MIPS in the 2017 transition year if they meet the following conditions:

  • Bill more than $30,000 in Medicare Part B allowed charges a year; and
  • Provide care for more than 100 Part B-enrolled Medicare beneficiaries a year.

The QPP intends to shift reimbursement from the volume of services provided toward a payment system that rewards clinicians for their overall work in delivering the best care for patients. It replaces the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and streamlines the “Legacy Programs:” Physician Quality Reporting System, the Value-based Payment Modifier, and the Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program.

During this first year of the QPP program, CMS said it is committed to working with clinicians to streamline the process as much as possible. The federal payor stated that its goal is to further reduce burdensome requirements so that providers can deliver the best possible care to patients.

5-Part Framework for MIPS Success Under MACRA

March 2nd, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Before picking MACRA pace, physician practices should construct a framework for MIPS success.

Along with picking a MACRA pace, physician practices should construct a framework for MIPS success.

Regardless of the pace a healthcare organization sets for Quality Payment Program participation, there are some key tactics that should form the framework of any MACRA initiative. Here, William Holding, consultant with PDA Inc., outlines the critical elements organizations need to achieve “MACRA-readiness.”

  • The first component for success is perhaps the most important, and that’s having a culture of provider support. A willingness to explore new options. This component is free, so if you don’t have that culture in place today, before going and investing in analytics products, performance improvement or new staffing, you’ve got to put this culture in place. We have seen organizations do this successfully, and make the journey into accountable care organizations (ACOs) or value-based programs by working on this piece first.
  • Second is strategic planning. Set measurable goals. That’s important. Look ahead one year, two years, three years. Set goals that have timelines, and goals that are reasonably achievable.
  • The next piece is strong leadership. If you don’t have a quality committee or a Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) committee, consider establishing one, and establishing a position lead in that program. It should be a multidisciplinary effort. Pull physicians, mid-levels, nursing leadership, IT and program management into that program. You should have tailored reporting strategies that align with your planning efforts.

    I’ve experienced teams that didn’t work well. In working with large systems, even with the support of clinical leadership and with the right analytical skills, efforts, I have witnessed efforts that were slower than they should have been until they brought in the right team member. This team member possessed in-depth knowledge of clinical workflows, had clout within the organization, knew personnel across IT, could talk to providers, and was a good communicator. When that person was on the team, the efforts began to move forward much faster. You’ve got to find the right people to be involved.

  • Next, data analytics is key. This starts with an individual with the right skills. It doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive solution for this. Sometimes ad hoc solutions work just fine for certain organizations. However, you need the right individual who knows the data, who knows how to respond to requests from leadership, and who can really own it.
  • Lastly, clinical documentation is essential. Doing that well will improve your position in this program.

Source: Physician MACRA-Readiness: Mining QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize MIPS Performance

social determinants of health

Physician MACRA-Readiness: Mining QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize MIPS Performance describes the wealth of data analytics available from the CMS Enterprise Portal—Quality Resource Use Reports (QRURs) and other analyses providing a window into practice performance under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). MIPS is one of two MACRA reimbursement paths and the one where most physician practices are expected to align.

Infographic: Navigating the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System

February 17th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The goal of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ new quality program, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), is to streamline quality reporting to CMS and improve care, according to a new infographic by athenaInsight, Inc.

The infographic examines how MIPS will impact an average clinician this year…and in 2019 when the 2017 reporting will impact a clinician’s reimbursement rates.

Infographic: EHR + CRM = Superior Patient Engagement

Under CMS’s “Pick Your Pace” choices for Year 1 Quality Payment Program participation, physician practices may opt for the minimum activity necessary to avoid a payment penalty in 2019: simply submitting some data in 2017.

However, instead of delaying MACRA participation to the later part of this year, physicians should prepare and better position themselves today for MIPS success by analyzing their existing CMS data on their practices’ performance and laying a path toward performance improvement.

Physician MACRA-Readiness: Mining QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize MIPS Performance describes the wealth of data analytics available from the CMS Enterprise Portal–Quality Resource Use Reports (QRURs) and other reports providing a window into practice performance under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). MIPS is one of two MACRA reimbursement paths and the one where most physician practices are expected to align.

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Providers, Patients Outline Healthcare Priorities to New HHS Secretary

February 16th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

As HHS secretary Tom Price begins his tenure, the ACA and physician reimbursement are on constituents' minds.

As HHS secretary Tom Price begins his tenure, the ACA and physician reimbursement are on constituents’ minds.

As Rep. Tom Price settles into his new role as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), organizations representing physician practices, nurses, patient groups and actuaries are making their healthcare priorities known to the newly confirmed administrator.

Concerns range from the future of the Affordable Care Act, which President Trump pledged to repeal in a January 2017 executive order, to specifics of new physician reimbursement programs resulting from MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015).

In a news release from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, America’s leading nursing organizations called on the Trump administration and Congress to prioritize patient health and the patient-provider relationship in any health reform proposals. Representing over 3.5 million nurses, the organizations affirmed their shared commitment to advancing patient-centered healthcare and healthcare policies that reflect five key areas ranging from ensuring patients access to healthcare with affordable coverage options regardless of preexisting conditions to creating greater efficiency in the Medicare system.

On the patient side, I Am Essential, a coalition of more than 200 patient groups, asked Price to preserve key ObamaCare protections, including one that guarantees coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

In its letter, the coalition said certain ObamaCare provisions have provided improved access to care to millions living with chronic and serious health conditions.

“While it is not a perfect law,” the letter stated, “The ACA has provided health coverage and improved access to care for tens of millions of Americans living with chronic and serious health conditions, many of whom were previously uninsured or underinsured. If they lose access and coverage for even one day, their health and well-being can be immediately jeopardized.”

The letter concluded with the following statement: “As you make any changes, we urge you not to go back on the promise of affordable and quality care and treatment for everyone, especially those living with chronic and serious health conditions.”

Meanwhile, a letter from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), which represents more than 18,000 U.S. healthcare organizations in which 385,000 physicians practice, asked the new administrator to “significantly reduce the regulatory burden on physician practices and improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery in this country.”

Focused on the federal payor’s new Quality Payment Program resulting from MACRA, the MGMA requested the following from Price, who worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon for nearly twenty years prior to launching his political career:

  • A reduction in the cost and reporting burden of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS);
  • A careful review of the eligible Advanced Alternate Payment Program (APM) risk standard and contend there is significant inherent risk in moving from fee-for-service to risk-bearing arrangements, including substantial investment and operational costs, as well as misaligned financial incentives between the payment systems; and
  • Legislative relief from the Federal Physician Self-Referral Law, which MGMA referred to as “a regulatory monster of mind-numbing complexity.”

MGMA represents physician groups of all sizes, types, structures and specialties, and has members in every major healthcare system in the nation.

And finally, the American Academy of Actuaries released three new issue briefs examining a number of key public policy considerations policymakers should weigh when evaluating specific proposals for reforming or replacing the Affordable Care Act.

The three papers, which address high-risk pools, selling health insurance across state lines, and association health plans, are available on the academy’s site.

“Differences in a reform’s structure can have wide implications for stakeholders and for how it interacts with other reforms that have been or may be adopted,” said Academy Senior Health Fellow Cori Uccello. “For example, high-risk pools can be structured in different ways, with different implications for access to coverage, premiums, and government spending. Further, how regulatory authority is defined for both cross-state insurance sales and association health plans affects whether insurers would compete on a level playing field.”

Physician Supplemental QRUR: Episode-Specific Patient-Level Data Tells Story of High Utilizers

February 7th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

QRUR reports provide a mirror into physicians’ cost and quality performance under MACRA.

As year one of MACRA unfolds, healthcare providers deterred by security hurdles associated with CMS Enterprise Portal access may want to reconsider. The wealth of aggregate quality and cost performance data available through the portal is well worth the trouble of accessing it, advises William Holding, consultant with PDA, Inc.

Specifically, Quality Resource and Utilization Reports (QRURs) downloadable from the portal are essential tools for physician practices that hope to succeed on MACRA-defined reimbursement paths, Holding said—even practices equipped with robust internal reporting systems.

“This is the same system that accountable care organizations (ACOs) use, and that CMS uses for many other things, so it’s a good idea to get past those barriers,” he explained during Physician MACRA Preparation: Using QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize Your Performance, a February 2017 webinar now available for replay.

Originally designed for CMS’s value-based modifier, QRURs are good indicators of future cost performance under MACRA, via either Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), where most physician practices are expected to fall initially, or Alternate Payment Models (APMs), he said.

After providing an overview of MIPS and APMs, including five essential prerequisites to MACRA preparation, Holding delved into the quality and cost metrics contained in QRURs, from aggregate data in the main report to detailed tables rich with patient-specific information.

The main QRUR report illustrates where a physician practice falls in relation to other practices on the overall composite for cost and quality. The QRUR’s Quality portion shows scores for a series of domains, including effective clinical care and patient experience, which offer a great window into how a practice might perform with different selected measures in MIPS.

Next, QRUR cost performance indicates per capita costs for attributed beneficiaries, which will remain a cost measure in MIPS.

Drilling down, Holding characterized seven associated QRUR downloads—including one table on individual eligible professional performance on the 2015 PQRS Measures—as even more useful than the QRURs themselves.

And finally, he termed the downloadable supplemental QRUR “a very powerful tool” that drills down to the beneficiary level, providing a snapshot of some of the highest cost events occurring among a practice’s patients.

“For high utilizers, for specific episodes, you can drill right down to the patient to try and understand the story. What’s happening to your patient when they’re not in your practice, and what can you do about it?” said Holding.

Having presented the available reports, Holding described four key benefits of using QRUR downloads, including as a priority setting tool, and then detailed the myriad of ways QRURs can be analyzed to improve MIPS performance.

However, Holding stressed, even physician practices with the most sophisticated reporting structures will not thrive under MACRA without the right team or culture of provider support in place. He closed his presentation with a formula for determining investment in performance improvement activities and a five-step plan for MACRA preparation.

Listen to an interview with William Holding on the use of QRURs to determine a physician practice’s highest value referral pathways.

At MACRA Launch, Think Like a MIPS Top Performer

January 9th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
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A focus on quality activities like influenza vaccines is a good starting point for MIPS performance improvement.

With the opening of the first Quality Payment Program performance period on January 1, 2017, many eligible healthcare providers have picked their MACRA participation pace and begun to collect performance data. In certain cases, Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) top performers and MIPS exceptional performers potentially could fare better than Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) practices. Here, Barry Allison, chief information officer, the Center for Primary Care, describes some ways clinicians can aspire toward MIPS top performer or exceptional performer status.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a MIPS top performer must be one standard deviation point above the mean, as far as the total cost of care for the patient as well as for the quality metrics reported to CMS. This illustrates why it is critical to look at your organization’s Quality and Resource Use Report (QRUR) data. From looking at our own QRUR data internally, we want to be in the 90th percentile or higher for things like annual flu shots, influenza vaccines, Pneumovax® vaccinations, or Prevnar® vaccinations in conjunction with the Pneumovax 23.

These are very key points. For most EHRs and registries, if you look at quality, that 60 percent that CMS will review in MACRA’s first year, those are the activities where you should aim to report at the high end. I would recommend anywhere from 88 percent and upwards, but my minimum would be reporting on 90 percent of areas where you can use technology to deploy a short message service (SMS) outreach campaign for influenza vaccines or similar tasks.

You want to make sure that in the areas considered low hanging fruit, that you’re either rendering those services, or if you don’t render those types of services, you direct the patient toward a Medicare provider or provider that does render those services and from whom Medicare receives that information.

Let’s take flu shots, for example. Even though your particular practice may not render that service, you should refer your patients somewhere that does administer the shots. You want to refer that patient somewhere where you know that claim will be filed to Medicare, because through their attribution methodology, you’re still that patient’s primary care provider. You still get credit right now for that quality element, even though you may not have administered the shot.

Source: Physician Chronic Care Management Reimbursement: Roadmap to MIPS Success Under MACRA

http://hin.3dcartstores.com/Home-Visits-for-Clinically-Complex-Patients-Targeting-Transitional-Care-for-Maximum-Outcomes-and-ROI_p_5180.html

Physician Chronic Care Management Reimbursement: Roadmap to MIPS Success Under MACRA describes how early adoption of Medicare’s CCM Reimbursement program enhanced the Center’s MACRA-readiness, laying the foundation for success under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) path.

MACRAeconomics: Chronic Care Management Is the Future of Medicare Reimbursement

November 3rd, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

The newly finalized 2017 Physician Fee Schedule expands Chronic Care Management codes to complex patients with multiple chronic illnesses.

Managing a Medicare population, particularly when the majority has two or more chronic illnesses, can be daunting. But in the current realm of healthcare reimbursement, the care of these beneficiaries is rife with opportunity.

“Depending on the manner in which you’re managing your Medicare Part B demographic, you have an opportunity to generate from 100 to 120 percent of the Medicare fee schedule under MACRA,” noted Barry Allison, chief information officer, the Center for Primary Care, during Physician Chronic Care Management Reimbursement: Setting MACRA’s MIPS Path for 2017.

During this October 2016 webinar now available for replay, Allison described how early adoption of Medicare’s Chronic Care Management (CCM) Reimbursement program enhanced the Center’s MACRA-readiness under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) path. By identifying the more than three-quarters of its 24,000 active Medicare beneficiaries that met CMS’s CCM requirements, the Center had a ready pool of patients on which to overlay CMS’s care coordination best practices and begin earning crucial CCM revenue.

“CMS recognizes that care management is a critical component of primary care. It contributes to better health and care for individuals, as well as reduced spending,” said Allison, who estimates his 40-provider organization is the largest chronic care management initiative in the Southeast.

Using the value-based modifier data available within CMS’s Quality Use and Resource Report (QRUR), The Center for Primary Care further identified its percentage of high-risk Medicare patients for more focused care management.

Accessing and reviewing QRUR reports, available from the CMS Enterprise Identity Management (EIDM) desk, is an essential prerequisite to MACRA participation, advised Allison, who also detailed the type of reports and data available from the QRUR. “Procure that data as soon as possible, because you can learn a lot about what CMS will be looking for in the future, and how the value-based modifier will actually become a part of that MACRA multi-pronged approach.”

While his organization’s CCM program utilized ENLI software to identify ‘hot-spotter’ data elements such as unfilled prescriptions or ER visits for specific conditions, physician practices that lack this technology still have many tools at their disposal—even appointment scheduling software—to identify high-risk patients.

“Open up consistent lines of dialogue and engage your providers. Sit down with them and say, ‘You know your patients better than anyone else. Tell us who to reach out to.'” With or without CCM software, practices should “document, document, document” the amount of time devoted to CCM, as well as how that time benefited patients.

Long-term planning rather than a reactive view will better position physician practices for success under MACRA’s Quality Payment Program, Allison concluded. The Center is already estimating how it will fare under Medicare’s newly finalized 2017 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). Next year’s PFS significantly updates CCM, offering new codes for complex chronic care management and for extra care management furnished by a physician or practitioner following the initiating visit for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

“For us, CCM is not really focused on the near term revenue as much as it is about the long term action-reaction we can have in the patient’s life, and how our physicians are paid over the next three years.”

Click here for an interview with Barry Allison on the MACRA Prerequisite of Procuring QRUR Performance Data to Maximize MIPS Success.

Infographic: Which Physician Quality Payment Program Is Right for You?

September 19th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

For Medicare physicians and groups that will be impacted by the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment Program (MIPS) and the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) requirements, it is important to remember that planning for the Quality Payment Program is more nuanced than simply ‘selecting a track,’ according to a new infographic by Able Health.

To help make understanding the two Quality Payment Program tracks a bit easier, Able Health’s infographic helps physicians and medical groups determine which track may be the most appropriate to prepare for in 2017.

No matter which level of participation physician practices choose for the first Quality Payment Program performance period beginning January 1, 2017, CMS’s “Pick Your Pace” announcement means practices should proactively prepare for the impact of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) on physician quality reporting and reimbursement.

MACRA Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for the MIPS Merit-Based Incentive Payment System delivers a veritable MACRA toolkit for physician practices, with dozens of tips and strategies that lay the groundwork for reimbursement under Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), expected to begin in 2017 and one of two payment paths Medicare will offer to practices.

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5 Ways to Keep Pace with MACRA Momentum

September 15th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

carecompactsIn a nod to the wide diversity of physician practices, the recent “Pick Your Pace” announcement by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) clarifies the timing of reporting for year one of the Quality Payment Program and offers eligible physicians and other clinicians multiple options for participation.

But whatever participation level a practice elects for 2017, there are many ways eligible providers can proactively prepare for MACRA’s ultimate impact on physician quality reporting and reimbursement prior to November 1, 2016, the date by which CMS has said it will issue the MACRA final rule.

Eric Levin, director of strategic services, McKesson, offered this advice for physician practices to prepare for Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), one of two payment paths CMS will offer to practices.

  • First, make certain you are successfully participating in any Medicare Quality and electronic health record (EHR) programs, which would include the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Meaningful Use, and the Patient-Centered Medical Home.
  • Next, try and factor the alternative payment model (APM) participation bonus into your risk-based payment model adoption strategy to see if that might be something you can qualify for, as the rewards can be significantly higher under the APM track.
  • Third, make sure you know which track your organization is going to seek. Explore APMs; if you can do one, great. If not, then MIPS can still provide a relatively high incentive.
  • Next, start educating providers, employers, nurses, staff members, on what the payment track is going to be, what’s going to be measured, and what the outcomes will be like as well.
  • Finally, stay very close to CMS. Check their Web site, subscribe for e-mail updates and check their Twitter feed for anything that’s changed, for any proposed MACRA rules that might become final, so that you are aware of and can make any changes as needed.
  • Source: MACRA Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for the MIPS Merit-Based Incentive Payment System

    http://hin.3dcartstores.com/Post-Acute-Care-Trends-Cross-Setting-Collaborations-to-Align-Clinical-Standards-and-Provider-Demands_p_5149.html

    MACRA Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for the MIPS Merit-Based Incentive Payment System delivers a veritable MACRA toolkit for physician practices, with dozens of tips and strategies that lay the groundwork for reimbursement under Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), expected to begin in 2017 and one of two payment paths Medicare will offer to practices.

MACRA Mantra for Physician Practices: “Chase the Quality, and the Dollars Will Follow”

July 19th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Physician practices should position themselves to be paid for volume now and value in the future, McKesson’s Eric Levin advised webinar participants.


If provider discontent doesn’t prompt a delay, the controversial MACRA legislation will become reality in just six months, shaking up traditional physician reporting and reimbursement as healthcare knows it.

And while the proposed MACRA rule is still in flux, the bones of the law aren’t expected to change, notes Eric Levin, McKesson’s director of strategic services. From this point forward, he says, care coordination will be the ticket to success in eventual MACRA value- and performance-based healthcare models.

“As clinical alignment and care coordination increase, if you are not participating in some type of value-based care program, most likely you’re not being reimbursed or rewarded for that work,” Levin told participants in The New Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for MACRA’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, a July 2016 webinar now available for replay.

In outlining MACRA’s intent, Levin chiefly focused on the Merit-Based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS) rather than the second reimbursement path, alternative payment systems (APMs), since the majority—88 percent—of physicians is expected to qualify under MIPS rather than APMs.

Zeroing in on MIPS, Levin reviewed eligibility, performance categories and data submission options, among other points. He then detailed the plethora of current and planned technical assistance options from CMS—including eventual practice transformation networks to provide peer-level support to physicians—before offering practical ways physician practices can prepare now for MACRA.

His six immediate action steps for practices included dipping a toe into analytics and data aggregation. “Look at the data. Learn how to risk-stratify. See the gaps in care you currently have and where those can be filled in so you’re not just measuring but actually improving quality,” Levin advised. The CMS Quality and Resource Use Report is useful for estimating a practice’s MIPS score, he added.

In offering six additional tactics to become MACRA-ready, Levin recommended physician practices acquaint themselves with national benchmarks as a primer in quality measurement.

And on Levin’s accompanying five-point MACRA implementation checklist is a reminder to stay current on CMS’s proposed and final MACRA rulings. Fostering relationships with technology vendors wouldn’t hurt either, he added.

His final points covered additional MACRA implementation resources, including education from provider associations, as well as the benefits of Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition and engagement in CMS’s Chronic Care Management initiative in MACRA preparation.

“These programs will really help you begin the value-based journey if you have not started.”

Levin emphasized providers should not wait for the final rule. Rather, physician practices should “learn how to focus on quality outcomes and costs, helping focus on the patient as well as that patient-provider relationship. Look at how you can identify ways to increase inexpensive patient encounters.”

Before concluding, Levin answered participants’ questions on how MACRA and MIPS will impact specialty providers; lessons practices can take from participation in the Physician Quality Reporting System, Meaningful Use and other value-based initiatives to enhance MACRA success; recommendations for small and solo practices; and other key concerns.

Learn more about Levin’s presentation.