EHRs a focal point of CMS draft quality measure development plan

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' draft quality measure development plan, required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), relies heavily on the use of electronic health records in the move to a Merit Based Incentive Program System (MIPS) and alternative payment models (APM).

The plan, published Dec. 18, is CMS' strategic framework for future clinical quality measurement development. It will use the existing measures from the Meaningful Use program, the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and the Value Based Payment Modifier (VM) as a starting point to create the measures to be used in MIPS and APM. MACRA sunsets the PQRS, VM and Meaningful Use for eligible professionals, and added instead the new MIPS and APM programs.

EHRs are central to CMS' vision in creating new quality measures, which the agency says can "reduce data collection and reporting burden while supporting more timely performance feedback to EPs than is possible through traditional claims or paper based means." 

For instance, CMS plans to prioritize the development of measures based on data from EHRs. The resulting portfolio of measures will, among other things, use data generated from EHRs based as much as possible on existing provider workflows and created as a byproduct of providing clinical care.

Stakeholders had expressed concern about setting up MACRA's measurement requirements, with both the Electronic Health Records Association and HIMSS warning that CMS should not overly rely on EHRs for collecting data that is outside the scope of EHRs. Both also said that vendors and providers need adequate time to develop and implement new functionality or reporting capabilities.  

Others have recommended that quality reporting be simplified and streamlined. CMS had asked for public guidance on both how to structure MIPS and Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program in light of the changes to it brought by MACRA.

Comments on CMS' draft quality measure development plan are due by March 1, 2016.

To learn more:
- here's the plan (.pdf)