The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ new Quality Payment Program, designed to reward providers for value and improved health outcomes, has exceeded its first-year participation goal.

Created under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, the QPP offers clinicians two tracks to choose from: the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or the Advanced Alternate Payment Models (APMs).

According to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, 91 percent of all clinicians eligible for MIPS participated in QPP’s inaugural year, slightly exceeding the agency’s 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,” said Verma in a blog making the QPP announcement. “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.”

Bloomberg/file photo

Also See: MACRA Quality Payment Program‘s first performance period gets underway

However, despite QPP’s initial rate of participation, Verma emphasized that CMS is committed to removing the regulatory burdens that “get in the way of doctors and other clinicians spending time with their patients.”

Towards that end, she noted that the agency reviewed the MIPS requirements and developed policies for 2018 designed to “reduce burden, add flexibility, and help clinicians spend less time on unnecessary requirements and more time with patients.”

Specifically, Verma said CMS has reduced the number of technical requirements that are needed to participate “giving them more time with their patients, not computers,” as well as adding “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.”

MIPS has an advancing care information (ACI) performance category with measures that support clinical effectiveness, information security and patient safety, patient engagement, as well as health information exchange. Under MIPS, the ACI performance category score defines a meaningful electronic health record user as a MIPS eligible clinician who possesses certified EHR technology, uses the functionality of CEHRT, and reports on applicable objectives and measures.

“While we’re proud of what has been accomplished, there is more work to be done,” acknowledged 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.”

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