I’m pleased to announce that 91 percent of all clinicians eligible for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) participated in the first year of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) – exceeding our goal of 90 percent participation. Remarkably, the submission rates for Accountable Care Organizations and clinicians in rural practices were at 98 percent and 94 percent, respectively. 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.
Meeting the Challenges Ahead
Even with this high rate of participation, we are committed to removing more of the regulatory burdens that get in the way of doctors and other clinicians spending time with their patients. After only eight months, we’ve made significant progress through our Patients over Paperwork initiative: streamlining our regulations, increasing efficiencies, and improving care for patients. 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.
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.
In particular we have:
- Reduced the number of clinicians that are required to participate giving them more time with their patients, not computers.
- Added new bonus points for clinicians who are in small practices, treat complex patients, or use 2015 Edition Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) exclusively as a means of promoting the interoperability of health information.
- Increased the opportunity for clinicians to earn a positive payment adjustment.
- Continued offering free technical assistance to clinicians in the program.
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.
We’re also eager to improve the clinician and patient experience through our Meaningful Measures initiative so that clinicians can spend more time providing care to their patients and improving the quality of care their patients receive. Within MIPS, we are adopting measures that improve patient outcomes and promote high-quality care, instead of focusing on processes.
Working with the Healthcare Community
We want to express our gratitude to all of the clinicians who collaborated with us as part of the voluntary Clinician Champions Program and the Clinician Voices initiative. We also want to thank all of you who participated in our various listening sessions and user groups throughout the year. Your input and feedback opened a dialogue, highlighted opportunities for improvement, and helped us identify ways to continue to reduce burden within the Quality Payment Program.
We deeply appreciate the contributions professional associations, consumer advocates and other important stakeholders have made to help engage their members and prepare them for success. We also want to acknowledge the networks supporting the free technical assistance available to clinicians, specifically the Small, Underserved, and Rural Support initiative, Quality Innovation Networks, and the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, who worked tirelessly to help clinicians familiarize themselves with the program so they can successfully participate. Together with our stakeholders and technical assistance networks, we hosted over 6,000 Quality Payment Program events last year. We used these events to describe requirements, offer tips, listen to you, and act on your feedback.
And, we’re proud to announce that our free technical assistance received a 99.8 percent customer satisfaction rating by over 200,000 clinicians and practice managers. The technical assistance networks also responded to 98.7 percent of initial referrals for additional support from the Quality Payment Program Service Center and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Regional Offices within 1-business day. We believe that there is an obligation to respond quickly, so clinicians can spend less time trying to figure out the program and more time with their patients.
Additionally, our Quality Payment Program Service Center complemented the technical assistance effort by fielding more than 130,000 inquiries and delivering world class customer support.
Better yet, all of the free and customized support from the technical assistance networks and the Quality Payment Program is still available to clinicians in the 2018 performance year!
Moving Forward Together
While we’re proud of what has been accomplished, there is more work to be done. 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. We look forward to continuing to hearing from you to make sure that we focus on patients, not paperwork.