Future of Health CareMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Quality Payment ProgramRiskValue-Based Health Care
November 7, 2018

The Final 2019 Quality Payment Program Rule: A Slow (but Steady) Push to Risk

Brew a pot of coffee! CMS has released a 2,378-page Final Rule covering the 2019 performance year for the Quality Payment Program, including the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Those who dive into this document will gain insight into CMS’s vision for the future. It seems tortuous to suggest “reading between the lines” when there’s already so much laid out in black-and-white, but recognizing the context within the rule enables you to prepare for the future—spelled R-I-S-K. The Final Rule is very close to what was proposed back in July and has been similarly justified—CMS continues to cite Meaningful Measures, Patients…
Read More
ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
October 10, 2018

Cost Savings Aren’t the Only Objective for ACOs: Growth Matters, Too

Keeping within expenditure limits is a top priority for most ACOs for Medicare. That makes sense. Savings are the main distinguishing feature of an ACO arrangement, as opposed to straight Fee-for-Service reimbursement. ACOs that accept downside risk can’t afford to exceed the expenditure target. It’s in their best interest to create initiatives to cut costs and control expenses—especially for services outside the ACO, such as post-acute care. But a cost strategy only focused on trimming expenses will likely fail the ACO in the long run. Why? Medicare ACOs face an annually decreasing expenditure limit that mandates them to lower costs…
Read More
ACOsBundled PaymentsFuture of Health CareSpecialty PhysiciansValue-Based Health Care
September 26, 2018

Five Strategies for Specialists: How to Safely Navigate ACO Arrangements

Amidst the furor over health care access and affordability, most consumers believe that the exceptional quality of America’s health care is due to specialty medicine. But Value-Based Health Care may well dramatically change specialty practice by putting specialists under financial risk arrangements. That’s because the most prestigious and flourishing providers in health care are also the most expensive for ACOs and health plans. That makes them a target for cost control. We have spoken about the need for ACOs to evaluate specialists carefully and ensure that specialists have input into ACO assessments of their cost and quality. Here we address specialists…
Read More
ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
July 11, 2018

Create Value for Consumers by Leveraging ACO Provider Choice

Medicare and commercial insurers are adamant about moving providers from Fee-for-Service to financial risk for services, and CMS is losing patience over providers’ reluctance to embrace downside-risk ACOs. Why are providers so worried about accepting risk? Because, they say, provider choice will ruin their potential for savings. With an estimated 25 percent of patients seeking services outside the ACO—for 60 percent of attributed total costs—providers argue that they can’t control total expenses, yet are on the hook for savings. They blame lack of coordinated care, duplicate tests and differences in the standard of care. Coordinated Patient Care Inside the Organization:…
Read More
ACOsFuture of Health CareSpecialty PhysiciansValue-Based Health Care
May 9, 2018

ACOs and Specialty Physicians: How Episodes of Care Create a Win-Win Cost and Quality Strategy

Specialty care is a thorny cost and political issue for ACOs and physicians alike. No ACO can provide good or comprehensive patient care without specialists. But if ACOs are to produce savings, they will almost certainly need to address how, when and at what cost those specialists will be used. The degree of concern about specialist-generated costs for most ACOs currently depends on the ACO’s structure. ACOs that are hospital-led or formed by multi-specialty health systems or networks may be less apt to look to specialty care for savings, except when the specialists are outside the ACO. Physician-led groups with…
Read More
AttributionClinical Data RegistryFuture of Health CareMeaningful UsePerformance ImprovementValue-Based Health Care
January 12, 2016

Public Health Reporting for Specialists: Avoiding Penalties Isn’t the Only Reason to Comply

At the heart of CMS’s Public Health Reporting Requirements for Meaningful Use is a basic premise: EMR technology must facilitate tracking of public health trends and long-term outcomes improvement. That is why all providers in the Meaningful Use program, regardless of specialty, are now being required to engage in public health reporting to avoid a penalty. Many specialists don’t see the point of reporting for public health reasons or find it too difficult. While it’s true that specialists face some specific challenges that require dedicated reporting to fit their clinical operations and to avoid professional and financial risks, there are…
Read More
ACO ReportingPQRS ReportingQualified Clinical Data Registry ReportingValue-Based Payment Modifier
August 18, 2015

Radiologists’ Tool Kit: How to Succeed in PQRS and VBPM

When it comes to PQRS reporting, it’s not easy being a radiologist. How can you fulfill PQRS reporting requirements and avoid jeopardizing future value-based payments? Many radiologists have found themselves backed into a PQRS corner—not enough measures to report, and those measures that can be reported have some tricky requirements. Similar to anesthesiologists, radiologists practice in a variety of settings and perform different types of procedures, according to sub-specialty. Depending on the procedures you perform, the vast majority of PQRS measures may not be applicable to you—not only are they clinically irrelevant, but you couldn’t report them even if you…
Read More
ACO ReportingFuture of Health CarePopulation HealthQualified Clinical Data Registry ReportingRegistry ScienceResearchValue-Based Payment Modifier
August 4, 2015

ACOs and the Referral Revolution Part 2: How to Align Objectives and Referral Practices

There’s no getting around it. Disruption in referrals under new Value-Based Health Care programs will upset both primary care and specialty practices under any change scenario. Physicians with historical relationships will undoubtedly resent an edict to redirect referrals, if they don’t understand or believe comparative data on cost and quality. On the other side of the equation, physicians who accept that aligning referrals with outcome data is part of being in an ACO will object if they see that referrals are driven, instead, by physician employment status. Every participant in an ACO must eventually accept that achieving shared savings will…
Read More
ACO ReportingFuture of Health CareValue-Based Payment Modifier
July 28, 2015

Are Your Specialists and ACO Ready for the Referral Revolution? Part 1

The practice of physician-determined referrals to specialists is deeply embedded in the culture of medicine. But it no longer works under Value-Based Health Care. A revolution in referrals is underway, one that will dramatically change physician alignment and engagement in ACOs and other Pay for Performance models. Outcome measures can distinguish the performance of one specialist versus another—and this performance data is available to both health systems and physicians. We all know that pure comparative performance data has a lot of flaws. But Medicare is publishing provider-specific performance for PQRS and group performance for ACOs, and calculating comparative scores under the…
Read More
ACO ReportingPQRS ReportingValue-Based Payment Modifier
July 7, 2015

Anesthesiologists’ Best Practices: How to Succeed with Medicare PQRS and VBPM

Anesthesiologists across the country are coping with a unique PQRS challenge. Different procedures and settings may mean that some practices do not have the requisite number of measures to meet requirements. Other groups will have enough measures, but the choices may not be obvious. When you have up to 6 percent of your Medicare Part B revenues at risk, you cannot afford to take that chance. Read on to learn how to make the best reporting decisions for your anesthesiology group and avoid Medicare penalties. Like Orthopedists, your specialty focus inherently limits your relevant PQRS measures—except that for Anesthesia, the options are…
Read More