CMS Focuses on Making Quality Payment Program Easier

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a tool this month that automatically shares electronic data for the Medicare Quality Payment Program. This tool is the first in a series to help reduce clinician burden and support high-quality patient care.

The Medicare Quality Payment Program gives performance-based payment adjustments to Medicare payments based on evidence-based and practice-specific quality data across a number of categories. The program’s interactive website launched in October, and hoped to help clinicians understand and participate in the program. As part of the website, the Explore Measures tool lets clinicians select the measures that fit their practice, assemble them into a group, and save for future reference. CMS says tens of thousands of clinicians are using this tool to help them understand the program.

The latest tool, released earlier this month, is an Application Program Interface (API) and builds on the website by making it easier for organizations to access the program measures and build applications for clinicians. The API allows developers to write software based on the information from the Explore Measures tool.

“The API released today will continue CMS’s focus on user-driven design by providing developers and our partners the opportunity to turn our data into powerful applications. CMS is committed to collaborating with the organizations that doctors trust to make their lives easier, while supporting their efforts to improve the quality of care across America,” said Kate Goodrich, director at the CMS Centers for Clinical Standards and Quality.

“An important part of the Quality Payment Program is to make it easier and less expensive to participate, so clinicians may focus on seeing patients,” said Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS. “This first release is a step in that process, both for physicians and the technologists who support them.”

Several important health groups have supported the release of these tools, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NHRI), American College of Radiology (ACR), American College of Physicians (ACP), National Rural Accountable Care Consortium, Great Lakes PTN, Pacific Business Group on Health, Compass PTN, TMF QIN-QIO, and the Mountain Pacific Quality Health Foundation.

“The American College of Physicians (ACP) supports the efforts of CMS to design and share publicly accessible interfaces that help simplify the process of physician participation in the Quality Payment Program. These efforts are aligned with ACP’s ongoing efforts to help equip physicians with tools and support needed to transform from volume-based, to value-based, patient-centered care,” said Nitin S. Damle, president of ACP.

“As a Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization, TMF is excited about this innovative approach toward providing transparency around quality improvement efforts. We believe that the API approach will allow CMS, providers, and patients to benefit from the ideas of creative programmers across the country as they build user-friendly interfaces to put information at the fingertips of those who need it,” said Russell Kohl, medical director for Practice Transformation, TMF QIN-QIO. “Efficiencies like these, that allow physicians to spend less time on administration and more on caring for patients, are the hallmark of our daily efforts to help caregivers, regardless of their location, provide the best care to patients, and we look forward to seeing CMS’s results.”

“We applaud CMS for using innovations in technology to help clinicians select and report meaningful measures for the quality of care patients receive,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “APIs hold a lot of promise for helping consumers access and use information in a more actionable and easy-to-understand way, which can lead to improved outcomes for both patients and health care providers.”

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